The Supreme Court Wednesday asked the Centre to produce before it orders under which restrictions had been
imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of amendments to Article 370 of the Constitution and revocation of the special status granted to the state.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the orders should be furnished to the court, and fixed the matter for further hearing in the last week of November.
“Why have you not placed the proceedings?” Justice Ramana asked Mehta when Advocate Vrinda Grover appearing for Executive Editor of Kashmir Times newspaper Anuradha Bhasin said that the government had not produced the orders, the examination of which was needed to decide whether the restrictions were proportionate and Constitutional.
The bench also comprised Justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.
Mehta said the petitioners had expanded their prayer. While the original prayer was that they could not publish their newspaper due to restrictions and sought lifting of the same, they had subsequently expanded this to demand the order copies, he said. The SG said he will file an affidavit and the court can then take a call.
He added that only the court and no third party had the right to sit in appeal over the administrative decisions which were taken keeping in mind national security needs. “But we can,” said Justice Gavai. “Yes, I told so,” replied Mehta.
Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave said, “We don’t intend to sit in appeal but we can tell the court whether they were adequate.”
At this, Justice Ramana said, “We want to know why they have not given orders,” and turning to Dave, said, “We are also concerned…We have taken objection also”.
Dave urged the court not to give the government more time to which Justice Ramana said it was not giving more time “but they are citing personal inconvenience and also because of subsequent developments”.
Mehta earlier told the court that after the government had filed a counter affidavit in the matter, more restrictions had been lifted and mobile and landline services restored. Grover said the affidavit filed by the government was silent on the orders she had sought.
Justice Gavai said he had read that the restrictions on postpaid mobile phones had been lifted. Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said this was not entirely correct and that there were also restrictions on SMS services.
Justice Ramana then told the SG “this concerns the public at large” and that he should speak to the concerned secretary. Mehta assured that he would.