SC disposes of plea challenging order restricting civilian traffic on national highway

 

New Delhi, May 6: The Supreme Court on Monday disposed of a plea challenging the Jammu and Kashmir government’s order restricting civilian traffic for a day in a week on a stretch of the national highway from Udhampur to Baramulla for the movement of security forces.
Counsel for the state government told the bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Deepak Gupta that the order restricting civilian traffic for a day in a week on the stretch of the national highway was passed due to the ongoing election and will remain in force till May 31.
“Additional solicitor general appearing for the state of Jammu and Kashmir submits that the closure of the highway as on date is for one day in a week, i.e., Wednesday. Additional solicitor general has further submitted that the said closure will be effective only till the end of May, 2019,” the bench noted in its order.
“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 security 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 order had said there will be one “dedicated day every week” 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 had said. Later, the state government had said that restriction will be there for a day in 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”.