The Supreme Court, while hearing a petition by Tehseen Poonawalla seeking withdrawal of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, today said the central government should get time to bring back normality in the state.
It labelled the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as 'very sensitive' and refused to pass any immediate order to the Centre to lift restrictions in the region imposed after the state's special powers under Article 370 were scrapped.
The court also said it is to be ensured that no life was lost there and posted the matter after two weeks, saying it will wait for normality to return.
Attorney-general K.K. Vennugpal did not mention in court any government time frame for the removal of restrictions.
The three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra was hearing the petition filed by Congress activist Poonawalla wh has sought the removal of restrictions and 'other regressive measures' in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Centre told the bench it is reviewing the situation on a day-to-day basis and reports came from the respective district magistrates and relaxations were being ordered accordingly. 'We have to ensure that the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir is maintained,' Venugopal told the bench.
He referred to the July 2016 agitation in Kashmir after the encounter of terrorist Burhan Wani and said it took around three months to bring normalcy at that time. He said that in the present situation, it will take a few days to restore normality and mentioned that not a single death had been reported since last Monday after the restrictions were imposed.
The bench said: 'The situation is such that nobody knows what exactly is happening there. Some time should be given for bringing normalcy. They are analysing the situation on a day-to-day basis.... The government's endeavour is to restore normalcy. That is why they are reviewing the situation on a day-to-to basis. If tomorrow anything happens in Jammu and Kashmir, who will be responsible? Obviously the Centre.'
The bench further said it has to look into all the pros and cons and therefore reasonable time should be given to the government.
It asked the petitioner's counsel, senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, to give specific instances. 'You give us specific instances and we will give directions to them to provide relief,' the bench said.
When the top court asked Venugopal how much time the government would need to restore normalcy, he said there was a need to ensure the law and order situation was maintained and the least inconvenience was caused to the general public.
When Guruswamy said that because of the snapping of all communication lines people had failed to speak to each other in the festive occasion, the bench said: 'Nothing can be done overnight. There are serious issues. Normalcy would return and we expect it will come with time. What is important is it has to be ensured that no life is lost'.
Guruswamy's question on how can there be total a prohibition on communication that even soldiers posted in the state cannot talk to their family members, got sharp reaction form the bench. It said: 'Why you are raising grievances on behalf of soldiers. Your prayer is not this. Soldiers have to maintain discipline and if they have any grievance then let them come before us. Why you are taking up the cause of soldiers.'
When Guruswamy tried to make a reference of Article 370, the bench warned her saying, 'Don't make any such statement on it.'
Before posting the matter after two weeks the bench said, 'We are with you on the issue of right to liberty of the people. But we should have a real picture before us. Wait for sometime. Let us wait for normalcy to return'.
The bench further told the petitioner he will have the chance to come back after two weeks.
It told Guruswamy: 'Your petition is poorly drafted' and also filed carelessly without realising the seriousness and importance of the matter.