The Supreme Court Monday granted permission to Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramullah and Jammu districts to inquire about the welfare of the people in the Valley. The Congress leader has assured the court that he was not going to his home state to hold any political rally or event.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that the Congress leader is free to interact with people during his visit to the Valley. The bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer, was told by senior advocate A M Singhvi who was appearing for Azad, that he wants to meet the people and inquire about their welfare.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi later told PTI that it will be a “humanitarian” trip to reach out to common people and he will submit a report to the apex court on his return. Azad also accused the state and Centre of not being bothered about the people. Azad said he is concerned about lines of communication disrupted in Jammu and Kashmir but is more worried about the common people and how they are earning a living.
In his petition, Azad had also sought permission to check on the social atmosphere in the state after the clampdown in the aftermath of the Centre’s August 5 decision to dilute Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi Monday said he will visit Srinagar “if necessary” and will oversee the functioning of the High Court. This came up after allegations that the high court was not accessible for litigants.
Asked about his petition on Sunday at a press conference, Azad said: “My petition is non-political. It is my personal petition and not on behalf of the Congress party… It is on humanitarian grounds. I have expressed a concern as a citizen of the state and as an MP from the state.”
Azad, who represents Jammu and Kashmir in Rajya Sabha, had attempted to visit the state thrice in August but was barred by the authorities each time and sent back to Delhi. On August 25, Azad was accompanied by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and a delegation of Opposition leaders but was detained and then being sent back from Srinagar airport.
The top court is hearing a batch of petitions regarding the situation in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the Centre revoking the special status granted to it under Article 370 of the Constitution. In a separate plea, the top court issued notice to the Centre on the detention of former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. The top court also directed the Centre to ensure normalcy is restored in Jammu and Kashmir.
(With PTI inputs)