The Supreme Court Monday issued a notice to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government on a petition challenging restrictions imposed on civilian movement along the National Highway between Srinagar and Baramulla.
“Issue notice on the writ petition, as also on the prayer for interim relief, returnable within two weeks,” ordered a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, hearing the plea by Muzzafar Shah, Awami National Conference senior vice president, and social worker Yasmeen Sonaullah.
Terming it an “absurd and draconian decision”, the petition contended that the restrictions affect the lives of several lakhs of people and “its indirect economic and social impact is interminable”.
“The impugned order means a virtual lock down of the Valley two days every week, which will directly affect 10,000 vehicles plying every hour, which includes vehicles carrying patients, students, tourists, businessmen and government officials,” it said.
The petition contended that “the illogical, vindictive and notorious order would result in offices, schools, colleges, banks, airports, railway stations shut every two days a week”, and added that “such an extreme step was not even adopted during the Kargil War in the year 1999”.
The petitioners also said it will impact the general elections “as it will disrupt the campaigning and constrict the ability of political parties and candidates to mobilise workers, set up public meetings and meet workers”.
On April 3, the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department issued an order banning the movement of civilian traffic on the 270-km Udhampur-Baramulla stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar-Uri national highway for two days every week from 4 am to 5 pm. According to this, on Sundays and Wednesdays, the stretch would be exclusively used for movement of military convoys.