Personal liberty must be balanced against national security requirements, observes Supreme Court on Jammu & Kashmir issue

Hearing a group of petitions on restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, The Supreme Court’s Justice BR Gavai remarked that personal liberty “will have to be balanced against the requirements of national security.”

The observation came in response to an argument by advocate Santosh Hegde, who claimed that Kashmir has seen a sustained media and communications blackout for 57 days.

During the hearing, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said that 100 percent landlines are working in the Valley and there is no restriction on the movement of people during the day time.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir administration, told a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana that if mobile and internet facility were resorted in the Valley, then fake WhatsApp messages would be circulated from “across the border” and it might incite violence there.

Several petitioners, including Executive Editor of Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin, activist Tehseen Poonawala and Foundation of Media Professionals, through its president Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, claimed that there was a complete lockdown of communication networks and restrictions on movement of journalists.

The bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai, sought a response from Centre and asked the petitioners to file their rejoinder and listed the matter in the second week of November.