A petition challenging the communication-blockade in Kashmir will be heard on September 16, by the Supreme Court. The petitioner and the Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that even after a month of the scrapping of Article 370, journalists were 'not allowed to move freely in the state'. However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that editors of the Kashmir Times chose not to publish their newspaper from Srinagar. This comes after Anuradha Bhasin moved to the Supreme Court for filing a plea against the alleged information blackout caused by the communication blockade in Kashmir valley.
The Centre told the bench that a large number of newspapers were being published from Srinagar. The Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta, told the bench that all other newspapers are being published from all the three places -- Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh. He said, "My concern is why she (Bhasin) chose not to publish her newspaper from Srinagar". Attorney General KK Venugopal also told the court that step-by-step relaxation was being allowed in Jammu and Kashmir. Some of the lawyers said they have filed a caveat in the matter and submitted that the petition of Bhasin was not maintainable.
The advocate appearing for the petitioners, Vrinda Grover, explained the judge bench that Editor-in-chief of Kashmir Times, Prabodh Jamwal travelled to many parts of the state and according to him, the situation was such that media cannot work due to "communication restrictions". The advocate claimed that during the Editor-in-chief's interaction with the people, one of the doctors spoke about the humanitarian medico-crisis. The editor also alleged that it is difficult to travel beyond Srinagar and journalists are finding it difficult to report. She said it was not clear as to on what basis there is a "communication blockade" which has resulted in the information blackout.
The bench led by the Chief Justice of India concluded the hearing on the matter, by asking the parties to complete formalities of filing counter-affidavit and replies and posted the matter for final disposal on September 16. The court also added that it was not going to entertain the writ petition filed by Congress activist and businessman Tehseen Poonawalla seeking the removal of restrictions in Kashmir Valley. The bench made asserted that he can only make his stand clear as an intervener in the petition filed by Bhasin. The court stated that grievances raised by Poonawalla can be advanced into the final hearing.
(With inputs from PTI)