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State can reasonably restrict fundamental rights, J&K to SC

State can reasonably restrict fundamental rights, J&K to SC

New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir administration, justifying the restrictions imposed in the erstwhile state after revocation of Article 370, told the Supreme Court that reasonable restrictions are in-built in any of the fundamental rights, more particularly, when there is a compelling interest of the state.

A bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana is currently hearing two petitions filed by Anuradha Bhasin, editor of a newspaper, and Ghulam Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader, on the restrictions on freedom of movement, press, etc.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, contended the fundamental rights under Article 19 are not absolute and can be regulated in the interest of sovereignty, integrity, security of the state and the general public.

"First and foremost fundamental duty is to secure the safety and protection of the citizens in Jammu and Kashmir... after examining the facts on ground, it is essential to discharge the constitutional obligation to the people of the region," he said.

Earlier during the day, the apex court told the Union Territory administration to answer each and every question raised on the restrictions imposed on the erstwhile state. During the hearing, the petitioners have several questions in connection with the curtailment of fundamental rights. In fact, it was submitted as a consequence of the restrictions, rights had been abrogated.

The Solicitor General also told the apex court that the region is the victim of cross-border terrorism, where terrorists are trying to destabilise the region, and they found support in local people having leanings towards separatist and secessionist ideologies.

"Complete clampdown, no transportation and no communication are hyperboles," he added.

The administration also countered the length of the restrictions. "When dreaded terrorist Burhan Wani was killed in June 2016, all modes of communications were restricted for a period of three months," said Attorney General K.K. Venugopal.

He insisted that these restrictions were imposed to nullify possibility of terrorist outfits utilising the situation by inciting people to violence by using various modes of communication, either through social media or otherwise. "Then there was no such hue and cry. Now what is being done is all motivated," he said.

The court observed that petitioners have argued in detail and it expects same response from the authorities concerned. "The counter affidavit does not help us to come to any conclusion," said the bench to Mehta seeking detailed reply.

The apex court also clarified during the hearing that except for one petition (habeas corpus) it does not have any detention matters, with regard to Jammu and Kashmir, pending before it. The habeas corpus, against detention of a business man, is pending as the petitioner simultaneously moved the High Court and the apex court.


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