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The Supreme Court of India seems to be forgetting its mandate when it comes to dealing with matters related to the Kashmir crisis. Nothing else can explain CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s latest: An offer to visit the state to check people’s access to courts. This, unfortunately, smacks of headline-hunting, your lordships.

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  1. Another view is also possible. The apex court is the ultimate custodian / guarantor of the fundamental rights of all Indian citizens. Since 5th August, these have been in a state of suspended animation for eight million Kashmiris. Given the sensitivities which attach to Kashmir and Pakistan’s nefarious role in the region, the initial response of the SC was to afford the government the widest possible latitude and discretion. Also respecting the need to minimise / completely avoid loss of life in quelling protests. 2. Six weeks on, the human costs are becoming difficult to ignore. Access to medicare, schools and colleges becoming functional, issues of livelihood such as the timely harvest and transport of the crops of apples and other fruits. The human suffering caused by severe restrictions on movement and communication. Unfolding events on the ground do not suggest a swift return to normalcy is taking place, as may have been originally envisioned. It is possible that SC judges are mindful of how this issue is being covered by global media. 3. Personally I think CJI Ranjan Gogoi’s visit to Srinagar would be invaluable. He would evidently not remain confined to a security / protocol bubble. He would reach out to ordinary citizens, talk to them in privacy and confidence. He would sift grain from chaff with one look. Above all, it would be like telling ordinary Kashmiris, You don’t need expensive lawyers to receive justice. If Mahomet cannot come to the mountain, the mountain has come to all of you. My respects to His Lordship.

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