Srinagar: The Supreme Court is likely to announce its verdict this month on pleas challenging the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir
In September, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud have reserved the verdict in September on over 20 petitions challenging the Central government’s decisions to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the erstwhile state into two Union Territories in 2019.
The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, had reserved the verdict after a 16-day hearing.
On late date, the court heard the rejoinder arguments of Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subramanium, Rajeev Dhavan, Zaffar Shah and Dushyant Dave among others.
The court ordered that if any lawyer appearing for the petitioners or respondents wishes to file a written submission can do it by September 8. It added that submission should not extend beyond two pages.
During previous hearings, the court heard submissions on several issues such as the constitutional validity of the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370, the validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act that split the erstwhile state into two Union Territories, the challenges to the imposition of Governor’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2018 and the imposition of President’s rule in the erstwhile state six months later.
The petitioners challenging the abrogation of Article 370 had argued that the provision was not temporary and that the Jammu and Kashmir’s Constituent Assembly wanted it to continue to remain in existence. They also argued that Article 356, which imposes President’s Rule in a state, was misused.
The Centre, however, contended that Article 370 was a temporary provision that the government has no intention of changing special provisions in the Constitution applicable to the northeastern states of the country.
The government also told the court that it was ready to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir but could not specify a timeline for restoring its statehood. It also argued that the abrogation of Article 370 brought normalcy to Jammu and Kashmir.
During the hearings, the Supreme Court observed that the Centre could not justify the means used to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution merely by pointing to the ends achieved through the legal changes.
Notably, the bench also observed that Article 35A of the Constitution which was repealed in 2019 by the Centre took away the fundamental rights of non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 35A of the Constitution empowered the legislature in the erstwhile state to define its permanent residents.
Justice Chandrachud had said that the law curtailed the rights to equal opportunity of state employment, acquire property and settle in Jammu and Kashmir for non-residents.