SC seeks Centre's report on J&K floods

New Delhi, Sep 12: The Supreme Court on Friday said "a calamity and disaster" as huge as the one witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir floods "deserves national response" and asked the Centre to apprise it on Monday on the urgent steps undertaken to accelerate rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations.

The apex court, which noted that "massive floods in Kashmir Valley have created horror" affecting more than 400 villages and stranding five lakh people, also asked the Centre to consider forming a Unified Agency for proper co-ordination of work. It appreciated the effort of the Centre and armed forces but declined the suggestion of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that it was not appropriate at this juncture for the judiciary to intervene and entertain petitions.

"Don't treat this as an adversarial litigation. In the past also this court has intervened when disaster of high magnitude struck Uttarakhand and other states," a bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said, while dealing with petitions seeking direction to the Centre to declare the present situation in the Valley as a natural calamity and national disaster.

The apex court said efforts should be made by Centre and the state Government to make functional constitutional offices like High Court and offices of administration from some accommodations in Srinagar.

"How will you communicate the order of this court?" the bench also comprising justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman said, while speaking about the current situation in the state.

"The executive and judiciary should start functioning in whatever way. Some accommodation must be made available so that judiciary starts functioning from the city of Srinagar. The High Court is the symbol of Constitution and face of judiciary. We would like High Court to start functioning immediately from any place in Srinagar even with two or three rooms," the bench said.

The CJI said even the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Justice Mahesh Mittal Kumar was till yesterday stranded in Jammu and they had spoken over telephone. 


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