HC gives govt one week to justify highway ban

HC gives govt one week to justify highway ban

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to file a “concrete reply” within one week on its order to ban civilian traffic on the national highway twice a week.
Senior Counsel RA Jan had pointed out that a legal point was involved in the matter as the Home Secretary had no powers to pass such an order of restricting civilian movement on a national highway.
Senior Additional Advocate General (AAG) BA Dar informed the court that a review meeting will be held on 6 May on the highway ban order. He further submitted that there are no restrictions for common commuters moving out for earning livelihood.
The court was also informed that the issue is pending before Supreme Court and the apex court has already issued notice to state respondents to file their reply.
On the previous hearing the state government had told the court that litigations filed by political parties against the highway ban order were “politically motivated”. The state government had submitted that public concern had been taken care of and there was no absolute ban as the impression being given.
The state government had said that the ban was ordered for security concerns till a certain period of time. Petitions challenging the ban had described it as harassment of the people of Kashmir.
Six petitions challenging the ban were filed by individuals as well as political parties, including the National Conference, Peoples Democratic Party, and JK People’s Movement. A division bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Tashi Rabstan had directed State counsel BA Dar to file reply to the pleas within one week and submit before court concrete reasons to explain the highway ban.
The court had observed that a commoner moving out for a livelihood or for medical emergency or for study or some other genuine reason had to be given free passage.
On a previous hearing the court had remarked that there cannot be an absolute ban on public movement on the highway.