Kashmir issue can be resolved politically, not judicially: Supreme Court

The ongoing trouble in Kashmir should be “dealt with politically” and everything cannot be managed within judicial parameters, Supreme Court said on Monday.

The apex court also asked the Solicitor General to help activist lawyer and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) leader Bhim Singh to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue. “This issue has various dimensions and therefore should be dealt politically and moreover, everything cannot be managed within the judicial parameters,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said.

The bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, referred to a meeting today between a delegation of the state’s opposition parties led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and asked Singh to join the delegation. When the senior lawyer said the “RSS-dictated” government would not invite him, the court, which asked Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar to facilitate Singh’s meeting with Modi, was annoyed.

“Don’t make a political statement here. You tell us whether you want to go and meet the political leadership or not,” the bench said. The SG said with regard to facilitating the meeting with the Prime Minister, he would “personally talk” to the Home Secretary. In his plea, Singh, who sought various reliefs, also demanded imposition of Governor’s Rule in Jammu and Kashmir. The bench also asked Singh to file his response on the status report filed by the Centre on prevailing ground situation in the Valley.

At the outset, the Centre said the Jammu and Kashmir High Court was already seized of the matter and hence the plea, pending in the apex court, be disposed of.The bench said the statements made by Bhim Singh may not be “relevant judicially” but they may be “relevant politically”. Earlier, the Centre, in its status report filed in the court on August 5, had said that the law and order situation in the Valley has improved considerably with incidents of violent protests having gone down from 201 on July 9 to 11 on August 3.

The Valley has been witnessing a spate of violent protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. The Centre, in its report, had said that in view of the improved situation, curfew had been lifted from most parts of the Valley on July 30. The Solicitor General, referring to the report, had said that curfew was in force only in certain areas of three districts in the Valley.

“Due to persistent efforts of the security forces/Jammu and Kashmir Police, the situation has shown remarkable improvement, with the number of incidents declining progressively since the outbreak of violent protests and clashes.

“Compared to 201 incidents on July 9, 2016, only 11 incidents were witnessed as on August 3, 2016,” Kumar had said, adding that a total of 872 incidents of violence were reported mainly from south Kashmir and parts of central and north Kashmir.

He said that in these 872 incidents, 42 civilians and two security personnel were killed, while 2656 civilians and 3783 security personnel were injured. Kumar said 28 government establishments were set ablaze and 49 such establishments were damaged. Due to the violent incidents, curfew was initially imposed in 10 districts out of 22 districts of the state. He said the incidents of violence started after Wani and two other militants were killed by the security forces on July 8, leading to large-scale protests and law and order trouble in different parts of the Valley.

The apex court had earlier asked the Centre to file a status report detailing “ground realities” prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir after Wani’s killing by security agencies. Bhim Singh’s petition had said that due to the use of pellet guns by the security forces, people were becoming blind and there was a shortage of medicines and medical facilities available to the citizens.

The plea had said that Governor’s rule under section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir should be imposed and had sought a direction to the Governor to dissolve the Assembly, claiming it “has failed to discharge its duties and functions”.