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Provide immediate aid to Amarnath pilgrims, SC to J&K govt

July 04, 2008 14:41 IST
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The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to provide immediate medical aid, security and transport to the stranded Amarnath pilgrims.

A vacation bench, comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and G S Singhvi, issued the directions on a public interest litigation filed by Bhim Singh, chairman of Jammu and Kashmir National Panther Party, who contended that thousands of pilgrims were facing problems due to disturbances in the state, following the cancellation of allotment of forest land to Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

Forest land measuring 39.88 hectares was alloted to the board for raising temporary pre-fabricated tents for the pilgrims without changing the proprietary rights of the land.

The apex court, however, refused to issue any directions to the state government to lift curfew in Jammu region and also told the petitioner that it was for the government to decide on the issue of allotment of land and the court could not interfere with its decision.

Singh, who is an MLC from the state, has also challenged the decision of Ghulam Nabi Azad government dated July 1, 2008, cancelling the allotment of land to the board, following violent agitations in the Kashmir Valley and Srinagar against the allotment.

According to the petitioner, the Azad government was reduced to a minority, following withdrawal of support by Peoples Democratic Party. The governor had already directed the Congress government in the state to prove its majority on the floor of the House on July 7.

Counsel for Jammu and Kashmir government Anees Soharwardy undertook before the court to provide security, transport facilities and immediate medical aid and treatment to the stranded Amarnath pilgrims. The apex court disposed of the petition with these directions.

During the hearing of the petition, the judges remarked in a lighter vain, "We have heard of paisa interest litigation, private interest litigation, but now you are introducing political interest litigation."

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