Highway ban: High Court seeks response from J&K govt

The High Court on Friday asked Jammu and Kashmir government to inform it about the implementation of the order issued by divisional commissioner Kashmir with regard to movement of commuters along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on Sunday and Wednesday every week to facilitate movement of security forces.

 A division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice Tashi Rabstan sought the response after counsels representing petitioners told the court that the order issued by the divisional commissioner is not being implemented on the ground.

“Even ambulances carrying patients with terminal diseases are not allowed to move. Even an officer of the rank of sub divisional magistrate has to face the wrath of security forces.  The divisional commissioner’s order has reduced to a mere shuck,” the counsels said.  State’s additional advocate general B A Dar, however, told the court that the authorities concerned are adhering to the decisions taken at the divisional level.  

“Let the learned counsel for the respondents file their response as regards the steps being undertaken to ensure that the decision taken at the divisional commissioners’ level is adhered to,” the court said.

The court also sought government response in terms of the order it (court) passed on 9 April vis-a- vis ensuring the movement of commuters in keeping with the divisional commissioner’s order.

Moreover, the court asked Union government as well as Jammu and Kashmir government to file response by April 24 to the pleas seeking directions to scrap the state government order.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions of former IAS officer-turned-politician Shah Faesal, National Conference leader Ali Muhammad Sager, Peoples Democratic Party leader Naeem Akhter, Raja Faisal Zahoor, Shafaqat Nazir and Arif Javid Khan.    

Meanwhile, the state counsel B A Dar accepted notice on behalf of the state government on an application moved by advocate Shafaqat Nazir highlighting how the divisional commissioner’s order is not implemented on ground. 

In his plea advocate Shafqat submitted that due to passing of the impugned order people are suffering.  “There is an instance in which an ambulance carrying a patient suffering from terminal disease was stopped by the security forces and which ultimately resulted into his death,” Shafqat pleaded, furnishing the relevant documents in support of his contention. 

He submitted that an officer with the rank of sub divisional magistrate was not only prevented by the security forces from discharging his duty but also manhandled and thrashed.  “An FIR was registered in this regard,” he pleaded.   

He further submitted that there are instances where the persons exempted by the state authorities from highway ban have been stopped by the forces. 

The Court asked Dar to file response to the application if any by April 24, the next date of hearing.