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Restrictions in IOK based on assumptions, Sibal tells SC


New Delhi, Srinagar, November 08, 2019 (PPI-OT): Senior advocate, Kapil Sibal submitted to the Indian Supreme Court that over seven million Kashmiris had lost their fundamental right to move freely on August 5 merely because the authorities had assumed that the entire populace of Kashmir would be opposed to the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status.

“The authorities created the problem by their own hand,” Kapil Sibal, appearing for Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, during a hearing on restrictions in Kashmir after revocation of special status of occupied Kashmir, told a three-judge Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana.

“Then should the authorities have waited for riots to take place,” Justice B.R. Gavai asked. “Now, why do you assume there would be riots? So, it is all in your mind, and seven million people lost their rights,” Sibal replied. “How can you just assume that there would be trouble and abrogate the fundamental rights of seven million people? You need solid material facts to support your apprehension,” he added.

What was the need for imposing curfew when you had thousands of troops already stationed there? he asked. Sibal submitted that the authorities, while restricting the fundamental rights of the people, neglected to look after their basic needs, like livelihood or availability of adequate public transport to reach hospitals, banks, etc. The lawyer said that it was the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that those in need were protected despite restrictions.

To this, Justice Reddy said that during curfews, in some circumstances, people do tend to suffer. “So, what is the duty of the rulers? They are to protect the rights of the people like farmers, orchard growers, cancer patients,” Sibal responded.

“Not allowing me to carry on my trade is an unreasonable restriction, not allowing me to go to the hospital is an unreasonable restriction, stopping me at the airport is an unreasonable restriction… How will information coming in from the rest of the world to Kashmir cause a riot? Restrictions without attendant performance of obligations by the authorities are not justified. You can restrict my life, but you have to facilitate it also,” Sibal argued.

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