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SC to hear pleas of Kashmir Times editor, others on September 16

SC to hear pleas of Kashmir Times  editor, others on September 16

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will hear on September 16 the pleas of the editor of Kashmir Times and others seeking removal of communication restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.

Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, told a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that even a month after scrapping of provisions of Article 370, journalists were "not allowed to move freely in the state".

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that editors of Kashmir Times chose not to publish their newspaper from Srinagar.

The Centre told the bench that a large number of newspapers are being published from Srinagar.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the court that step by step relaxation was being allowed in Jammu and Kashmir. Mehta also 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."

At the outset, advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the journalist, submitted that the Editor-in-chief of Kashmir Times travelled to many parts of the state and according to him, the situation was such that media cannot work due to "communication restrictions".

She said it was not clear as to on what basis there is a "communication blockade" which has resulted in the information blackout.

The advocate claimed that during the Editor-in-chief's interaction with the people, one of the doctors spoke about the medico-crisis. She said that a video was also shot on what the doctor was speaking.

The editor also alleged that it is difficult to travel beyond Srinagar and journalists are finding it difficult to report.

While she was making the submissions, some of the lawyers said they have filed a caveat in the matter and submitted that the petition of Bhasin was not maintainable as she has no locus standi.

They said majority of the people are happy with the change in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir and the steps being taken by the authorities.

However, the bench concluded the hearing in 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 said it was not going to entertain a writ petition filed by Congress activist and businessman Tehseen Poonawalla seeking removal of restrictions in Kashmir Valley and made it clear that he can only make his stand clear as an intervener in the petition filed by Bhasin.

The court said whatever grievances he has raised in the petition can be advanced during the hearing on September 16 by him as an intervener.

"As the issues raised in these writ petitions are being gone into by the court on September 16 in another writ petition..., we do not see any necessity of formally admitting these petitions. The petitions are not entertained and are disposed of," it said.

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