Srinagar: The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the hearing on a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A to the last week of August, on the grounds that one member of the three-judge bench was not available to hear the matter.
“Justice DY Chandrachud is not sitting today. Since the matter was being heard by a three-judge bench all this while, and involved the issue of reference to a Constitution Bench, the matter is listed before the three-judge bench during the last week of August,” the Supreme Court said.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar are the two others on the three-judge bench. The case has now been listed for hearing before them on August 27.
Fourteen lawyers of the J&K High Court Bar Association from Srinagar appeared before the Supreme Court bench today to defend Article 35A. Bar Association president Mian Qayoom and secretary GN Shaheen were among these lawyers.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, GN Shaheen said that the Supreme Court will now hear the matter on August 27. “Nothing can be said about whether the matter will be referred to a Constitution bench or not. It is with the court and they will decide it under law,” Shaheen said.
Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution of India by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu & Kashmir and denies property rights, government jobs, voting rights in the state assembly elections, and scholarships to those who are not permanent residents of J&K.
The Jammu and Kashmir government headed by Governor NN Vohra had on August 3 moved an adjournment motion in the Supreme Court to defer the hearing on petitions challenging Article 35A, citing the upcoming local body elections.
Four petitions demanding scrapping of Article 35A have been moved before the Supreme Court. The main petition was filed by a Delhi-based NGO “We the Citizens”. Later, three petitions filed by West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee, Dr Charu Wali Khanna, and Kali Das were clubbed together.