Highway Ban: SC Seeks Govt Response In 2 Weeks  

NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Government of India and Jammu and Kashmir on a plea seeking quashing of an order which restricts civilian traffic two days a week on the highway (NH) stretch from Udhampur to Baramulla for movement of government forces.

The state government issued an order on April 3 in which it said that keeping in view the Pulwama attack, another car bomb attack on security forces’ convoy at Banihal and movement of forces during the Lok Sabha elections, no civilian traffic movement will be allowed on the highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir Valley with rest of the world, from 4 AM to 5 PM twice a week.

The order said there would be two “dedicated days every week” — Sunday and Wednesday — for movement of security forces’ convoy when there would be no civilian traffic on the national highway from Baramulla to Udhampur from 4 AM to 5 PM.

The regulation of the vehicular movement on the NH would remain in force till May 31, it said.

A plea challenging the April 3 order came up for hearing on Monday before a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

“Issue notice on the writ petition, as also on the prayer for interim relief, returnable within two weeks,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

The plea has been filed by Muzzafar Shah, the senior vice president of state political party ‘Awami National Conference’, and social worker Yasmeen Sonaullah.

The plea, filed through advocate Suhail Malik, alleged that the “absurd and draconian decision” to restrict civilian traffic movement on 270 kilometre stretch on national highway directly affects lives of lakhs of people and “its indirect economic and social impact is interminable”

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