NEW DELHI The Supreme Court on Monday disposed of a plea, challenging the home departments highway ban order, after government said civilian traffic was restricted for only a day in a week on a stretch of the thoroughfare, from Udhampur to Baramulla for the movement of government forces.
Additional Solicitor General appearing for the State of Jammu & Kashmir, submitted before Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta that the closure of the highway as on date is for one day in a week, i.e., Wednesday.
The Additional Solicitor General also further submitted that the closure will be effective only till the end of May.
“Taking into account the reasons that have prompted the state to order for the closure of the highway which is restricted to one day in the week, we are not inclined to keep this petition pending any longer,” the bench said and disposed of the plea.
The state government had issued an order on April 3 in which it said that keeping in view the Pulwama attack, another car bomb attack on government forces’ convoy at Banihal and movement of forces during the Lok Sabha elections, no civilian traffic movement will be allowed on the NH stretch from 4 am to 5 pm twice a week.
The plea was 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, had 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”.
“The impugned order means a virtual lockdown of the valley a day every week which will directly affect 10,000 vehicles plying every hour, which includes vehicles carrying patients, students, tourists, businessmen and government officials,” the plea had said, adding, “such an extreme step was not even adopted during the Kargil War in the year 1999”.
The plea had said: “It is further submitted that the illogical, vindictive and notorious order would result in offices, schools, colleges, banks, airports, railway stations shut for a day a week.”
It had further said that the order will “have a direct impact on the General Election of 2019 as it will disrupt the campaigning and constrict the ability of political parties and candidates to mobilise workers, set up public meetings and meet workers”.