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Petitions on Art 370: Next hearing on Nov 14: SC grants Centre 28 days to reply

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Oct 1: A 5-judge Supreme Court bench that was hearing a bunch of petitions on the abrogation of Article 370 and other issues in Kashmir has granted the Centre four weeks’ time to reply to all pleas challenging the move.

The Supreme Court constitution has granted the government 28 days’ time to reply to all Kashmir petitions and one week to the petitioners to file their responses after the government’s reply.

The petitions on Kashmir will again be heard on November 14. Supreme Court has allowed the Centre and J&K administration to file counter-affidavits on petitions challenging scrapping of Article 370.

 

Attorney General KK Venugopal sought 4 weeks’ time while Solicitor General for Jammu and Kashmir also sought the same amount of time to file replies to the bunch of petitions.

The petitioners however opposed the Centre’s demand and said that the move will render all petitions infructuous or pointless.

This will be applicable to all petitions that were filed till Tuesday and the court said that the Supreme Court registry will not entertain any further writ petitions on the same issue.

Even as deadline for implementing the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir is on October 31, the Centre and J&K government has been given four weeks’ time to file reply to petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and J&K Reorganisation Act.

The court refused to pass any order on the implementation of J&K Reorganisation Act and said any such move “can turn back the clock if we decide in your favour”. (Agencies)

‘Personal liberty must be balanced against nat’l security’

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, Oct 1: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it was important to balance the personal liberty of individuals with national security concerns while hearing petitions challenging the restrictions placed on media and communications since August in Jammu and Kashmir, Bar and Bench reported.

The restrictions were imposed on August 5, when the Union government scrapped special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Nearly two months after the decision, restrictions continue to be in place in many parts, with several Opposition political figures also under detention. The government has defended its measures citing law and order concerns.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who was arguing for a Kashmiri law student, said that the situation in the Valley was not normal and it had experienced a “sustained media and communications blackout” for 57 days. “Liberty does not mean mere animal existence,” Hegde said. “Right to communicate with loved ones is included in the right to liberty.”

In response, Justice BR Gavai said: “Personal liberty will have to be balanced against the requirements of national security.” Gavai and Justices NV Ramana and R Subhash Reddy were hearing a batch of petitions filed by AnuradhaBhasin, the executive editor of Kashmir Times, activist TehseenPoonawalla and Foundation of Media Professionals, on the Kashmir matter on Tuesday.

Senior counsel Meenakshi Arora, who was arguing for Poonawalla, said that these petitions also raised the question of fundamental rights. “Can fundamental rights be pushed under the carpet,” she asked.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, who was representing Bhasin, asked under which notification communication lines were snapped in Kashmir, according to Live Law.

The court asked the Centre to respond to all the petitions that have been tagged with Bhasin’s and said it will next hear the matter on October 16. In her petition, AnuradhaBhasin claimed that the “information black hole” in the Kashmir Valley was continuing despite the administration’s claims that restrictions were being withdrawn. She added that the movement of journalists in Srinagar was being curbed.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, told the court that if mobile and internet facilities were restored in the Valley, fake WhatsApp messages would be circulated across the border and could lead to violence. He added that all landlines were working and there were no restrictions on the movement of people.

A five-judge Supreme Court Constitution Bench on Tuesday granted the Centre four weeks to file its response to a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of Constitution. The Constitution Bench will hear the matter next on November 14.

These pleas have challenged the communication blockade in the state, the alleged illegal detention of children, and the impact of restrictions on healthcare. Three petitions against the security clampdown have been filed by advocates ML Sharma, Shakir Shabir and Soyaib Qureshi. National Conference Lok Sabha members Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi have filed a petition under Article 32 of Constitution, which allows the Supreme Court to issue any order to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. Child rights experts EnakshiGanguly and Shanta Sinha have filed a plea seeking clarity about reports of children being illegally detained by security forces.

A group of former defence personnel and bureaucrats, who have served in Jammu and Kashmir, have also challenged the Narendra Modi government’s decisions. A petition has also been filed by Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, challenging the validity of the revocation of the state’s special status.

No curbs on movement of media personnel: Centre

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, Oct 1: The Central government on Tuesday filed a counter-affidavit in a petition filed by Kashmir Times editor AnuradhaBhasin challenging the curb on media in Jammu and Kashmir in wake of the abrogation of its special status.

In the affidavit, the Centre contended that there are no restrictions on the movement of the media personnel in the region. “Regular press briefings and press releases are being organized to disseminate the information,” it stated.

The government said that the restrictions were imposed on the internet, mobile and landline telephones so as to prevent the dissemination of “rumors, fake propaganda, and activities that could disturb public order and tranquillity”.

They said that the attempt to engender the normalcy is being stalled by “separatist elements and militants”. “There have been numerous threats to common citizens from terror outfits threatening them from resuming normal salubrious life in the Kashmir valley,” the affidavit stated.

The health services are functioning normally, it said, adding that there is sufficient stock of essential and life-saving drugs and other medical requirements across the hospitals in the region.

Refuting this, advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing on the behalf of Bhasin, told the court that people are not being able to access the health care facilities in the region.

The top court also admitted an intervention application filed by Foundation for media professionals, through President ParanjuGuhaThakurta and Indian Journalists Union, in the case.

On this, the court has asked Centre to file an affidavit and posted the matter for hearing on November 16.

Bhasin filed the petition after the government on August 5 scrapped the provision of the article, which took away the special rights enjoyed by the people of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The UTs will come into being on October 31.


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Northern Army Commander visits Siachen

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Oct 20:Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command Sunday visited forward posts in Siachen Glacier. He was accompanied by Lieutenant General Harinder Singh, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire & Fury Corps’.

“Complementing the troops deployed in the Sector for their dedication and perseverance, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that the nation is proud of the valour and sacrifices of the ‘Siachen Warriors’,” an army spokesperson said.

“He exhorted them to continue to uphold the high standards of professionalism and commitment, even while deployed in the face of extreme challenges posed by the highest battlefield in the world. He also laid a wreath at the Siachen War Memorial, as a mark of respect for the martyrs of Operation MEGHDOOT,” he added.

 

Lieutenant General Singh later visited ‘Heritage Abode’ – the residence of one of the greatest heroes of Ladakh, Late Colonel Chhewang Rinchen at Sumur Village in Nubra Valley.

Colonel Chhewang Rinchen was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra twice and a Sena Medal, for his acts of valour during the various battles fought in the Ladakh Sector. Paying his respects, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said that Colonel Chhewang Rinchen will continue to inspire future generations of Indians.

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No merger on cards, J&K Bank has strong fundamentals:Chhibber

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Oct 20: Putting all the speculations about the J&K Bank’s merger at rest, J&K Bank Chairman and Managing Director R K Chhibber today stated, “The recent crisis of Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank in the country has worried bank customers in general but the rumors of J&K bank’s merger by some vested interests has raised apprehensions among our depositors particularly in J&K. Let me put all those speculations at rest by assuring you that no merger is on the cards and the bank’s fundamentals are very strong.”

In a press statement, he further said, “Let me assure all the stakeholders of the bank that their beloved bank is in safe hands of more than 12000 strong J&K Bank family under the supervision and guidance of a professionally strong board of directors with a robust accountability framework in place for transparency and efficiency. The only way to go for the bank is up and above, towards higher levels of accomplishments.”

Commenting upon the effect of recent political developments in J&k upon the bank, he said, “We certainly believe that the recent developments that have taken place in state won’t affect the essence of this institution, which is to financially serve the people of J&K and catalyze the economic development of this region.J&K Bank has witnessed far bigger challenges in the past, and we believe, as always with the emotional equity of the people, support of J&K Government and unmatched commitment of our staff, we shall meet every challenge head-on and come out stronger and more successful.”

 

While reiterating that J&K Bank has strong fundamentals with all its major financial indicators performing well, the Chairman also asserted that few of the large loans, made some years ago that have turned Non Performing Assets (NPAs) and are being investigated; have been adequately provided for by the bank and shall have no impact on the profitability of the bank.

“Let me assure you that we are here to be with you and lead you towards a more promising and fulfilling economic future”, he said.

Reflecting upon the long and eventful journey of the bank, the Chairman said, “It has been a long, eventful and challenging journey of over eighty years that has shaped up not only this great institution but the very structure and the substance of J&K’s economy. For all this, we acknowledge and admit the instrumental role of our shareholders and customers whose unwavering trust and cooperation has been the guiding light for us during eight decades of our existence.”

Expressing his gratitude for the bank’s main stakeholders, Chairman said, “In particular we appreciate the unflinching support of our main stakeholders i.e.the J&K Government, the Board of Directors, and employees at large. J&K Government has always come forward to support the bank in all spheres and have already raised their stake to 59 pc in the bank by providing capital of Rs 532 Crfor business growth and regulatory requirement. Thegovernment has also indicated to extend additional capital support in near future to meet our Basel III capital requirements.”

Notably, thevery reason for the establishment of Jammu & Kashmir Bank by its founders in 1938 has been to empower the people of the state financially so that an era of development could be ushered in.Today we see that vision transformed into reality as J&K Bankleads from the front with market share of more than 65 pc, more than 12 million account holders from two million households and a total business around 1.65 lac Cr.

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Market Intervention Scheme: Govt procures 1.5L apple boxes, disburses Rs 8 cr

Mudassir Kuloo

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Srinagar, Oct 19: Jammu and Kashmir government has procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes and paid around Rs 8 crore to growers under the ambitious Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) so far.

Launched last month in association with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), MIS was aimed at easing difficulties of the apple growers in the valley.

Director Horticulture, Kashmir, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat, said around 4000 growers have been registered under the scheme so far.

 

“We have procured 1.5 lakh apple boxes, which roughly comes to 2000 metric tonnes of fruit. We did business of around Rs 10 crore and almost Rs 8 crore have been disbursed to apple growers so far,” Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.

Director Horticulture noted that there has been a good response since October 7, when government revised the rates of apples.

“As per government order, the payment has to be disbursed within three days after procurement of apple. Sometimes it may take five days. We will continue this scheme till December 15. It can be extended if need arises. This scheme is working in a hassle free manner and apple growers are benefitting,” he said.

 The initial rates for A grade apple were Rs 52 per kilo, Rs 36 for B grade and Rs 15.75 for C grade apple. The revised rates for A grade apple are Rs 58 per kilo, Rs 42 for B grade and Rs 22 for C grade apple.

Bhat said six lakh metric tonnes of apple have been exported so far. This includes 2000 metric tonnes exported under market intervention scheme.

“Kashmir grows around 21 lakh metric tonnes of apple and over 25 percent has been exported so far. Most of the growers have exported apples on their own without benefitting from the scheme,” he said.

Kashmir’s fruit season starts in May when first crop of cherry is harvested. It is followed by pears and other fruits which hit the market in the following months. Apple is almost the last crop that hits the market in autumn. Bulk of the apples is exported to the markets in Delhi. Some of the crop is also sold in Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmadabad and other cities.

Horticulture is the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy with seven lakh families directly and indirectly associated with the sector. The horticulture contributes seven percent to the Gross State Domestic Product of Jammu and Kashmir.

More than 3.38 lakh hectares of land is under the fruit cultivation in the valley. Of which 1.62 lakh hectares is under the apple cultivation. Last year the fruit production including dry fruits touched 23.30 lakh tonnes last year compared to 22.34 lakh tonnes in 2017.

Jammu and Kashmir is the largest producer of apple in the country with production touching 18.28 lakh metric tonnes last year. The apple production was 17.27 lakh metric tonnes in 2017.

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