Supreme Court allows Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter to pay her a visit in Valley
The Supreme Court on Thursday permitted former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter, Iltija, to travel to Srinagar to meet her mother in private, but disallowed her from moving in other parts of the city without the local administration’s permission.
A Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi-led three-judge bench issued an order in this regard even as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed Iltija’s move to use the court, “an august forum”, for a purpose that was not “ostensible”. Mehta said Iltija should have approached the district magistrate with her plea. “She has never been stopped from meeting anyone,” he said.
Attorney general K K Venugopal said the mother and sister of Mufti have met her after taking permission from the magistrate. “Why should she [Iltija] come here now?” Venugopal asked.
Three former chief ministers, including Mufti, are among hundreds of people, who were detained as the Centre abrogated Constitution’s Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories on August 5. The article gave the state a special status and prevented non-residents from buying property and getting government jobs there.
A lockdown and communication blockade were also imposed to prevent protests against the revocation of Article 370.
“What is your objection in her going to Kashmir or her house and every citizen has the privilege to approach this forum,” the CJI remarked when Mehta reiterated Iltija should have sought the permission from the local authorities. Iltija told the court that she suffered unwarranted restraint while she was in Srinagar between August 6 and 22. Such added the restrictions forced her to fly out to Chennai and despite her applications, she was not granted permission to meet her mother.
The court separately ordered the transfer of Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI (M) lawmaker M Y Tarigami from Srinagar to Delhi for treatment.
CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury’s had filed a petition questioning Tarigami and his family’s detention. Yechury visited ailing Tarigami after the court permitted him to do so last month. Yechury told the SC in an affidavit that Imtiyaz Hussain, the SP security of Srinagar told him that Tarigami is “free” and that there no legal charges against him. But Tarigami’s securities “have been instructed by the authorities not to allow him or his family members to move out of the house or allow any person from outside to enter the house.”
Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin, who also has filed a petition, told the court that the communication blockade continues unabated in the Valley. Her lawyer, Vrinda Grover, demanded the government to produce the order or notification by which it had shut down mobile and Internet services. She said her client was unable to publish the paper as the movement of journalists was restricted. The bench headed by CJI declined to pass any order and said, “We will hear all the petitions on September 16.”
A lawyer from J&K, who represented social activist Tehseen Poonawala, said, “There is no access to hospitals and no means of transportation. There are persons living in a similar situation as Tarigami. All cannot approach this court.”
Venugopal said the claim about lack of access to hospitals was totally wrong. “Seven lakh patients have accessed hospitals during this period. Major surgeries were held in 4,334 cases and minor surgeries were conducted on 44,236 patients,” he said.