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Officers absent, Supreme Court fumes

“It appears the Centre and the state are taking the matter very lightly,” Justice NV Ramana said
The bench had made it clear it was upset that neither attorney-general KK Venugopal, who is representing the Centre, nor Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state, were present

Our Legal Correspondent   |   New Delhi   |   Published 19.11.19, 08:59 PM

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its ire at the absence of senior government law officers during a daylong hearing on petitions that have challenged the communication restrictions on Internet, mobile and other communication services in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5.

“It appears the Centre and the state are taking the matter very lightly. There is no senior lawyer present,” Justice N.V. Ramana, who was heading the bench, said.

The bench, which also included Justices R. Subash Reddy and Bhushan Gavai, later adjourned the matter to Thursday after solicitor-general Tushar Mehta rushed to the court at the fag end of the hearing and sought a short adjournment.

Earlier, the bench had made it clear it was upset that neither attorney-general K.K. Venugopal, who is representing the Centre, nor Mehta, appearing for the state, were present. Only advocate Rajat Nair, who assists Mehta in all other matters, was present.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for one of the petitioners, complained that 106 days had passed since the August 5 clampdown and people continued to suffer.

Justice Gavai asked Nair why no senior advocate was present. Nair said the solicitor-general was busy at a constitution bench hearing. “If he is preoccupied then you must make alternative arrangements,” Justice Gavai said.

Justice Ramana took exception that the Jammu and Kashmir government had so far not placed any status report on the situation. “We will not adjourn the matter,” he said.

Later, Mehta rushed to the court and sought an adjournment till Thursday.

Stone pelting

The Union home ministry on Tuesday told Parliament the government had succeeded in curbing stone-pelting incidents in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 when the Centre moved to scrap the special status of the state, now a Union Territory.

“Since August 5, 2019, to November 15, 2019, 765 people have been arrested in 190 cases registered relating to stone-pelting/law and order. From January 1, 2019, to August 4, 2019, a total of 361 such cases were registered,” junior home minister G. Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha.

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