August 28, 2019

SC Issues Notice To Center On Scrapping Of Article 370 In J&K; Refers The Matter To A Five-Judge Constitution Bench

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Center asking it to respond to petitions on scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), as well as restrictions on the media in that state.

The Supreme Court also referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution Bench as it heard a batch of petitions against the center’s move.

Accordingly a five-judge Constitution Bench is set to hear all pleas related to abrogation of Article 370 in the first week of October.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and Attorney General KK Venugopal who represent the government, argued against the issuing of notice to the Center, claiming that the case is “sensitive” and that any such notice would have “international repercussions”.

However, the Supreme Court chose to ignored their request and issued notice to the Center.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also issued notice to the Center, responding to a plea by Kashmir Times Executive Editor, Anuradha Bhasin, who had sought a direction to relax restrictions on internet, landline, and other communication channels.

The Supreme Court issued the notice and sought a detailed response from the central government within seven days.

In related orders, the Supreme Court allowed Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) leader Sitaram Yechury to visit J&K and meet his party leader and former MLA, Yousuf Tarigami.

While passing the order, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi asked Yechury to limit his visit to Tarigami as a friend, and not use it for any political purpose.

The Supreme Court also allowed a Kashmiri student, Mohammad Aleem Sayeed, to travel to J&K to meet his parents, asking him to file an affidavit after his return.

Incidentally, the first petition challenging the presidential order scrapping Article 370 was filed by advocate M L Sharma, who was later joined by another lawyer from Jammu and Kashmir, Shakir Shabir.

National Conference (NC), a prominent political party from J&K, filed a petition on August 10, contending that changes brought in the status of the state had taken away the rights of its citizens without their mandate.

Arguing that the legislation approved by Parliament and the orders issued by the President subsequently were "unconstitutional", the petition prayed for those to be declared as "void and inoperative".

The petition was filed by Mohammad AKbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, both Lok Sabha members of the NC.

There are other petitions challenging the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370, including a plea filed by a group of former defence officers and bureaucrats, who have sought directions declaring the presidential orders of August 5 as "unconstitutional, void and inoperative".

The plea was filed by professor Radha Kumar, a former member of the Home Ministry's Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir (2010-11), former IAS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar Mehta, former Punjab-cadre IAS officer Amitabha Pande and former Kerala-cadre IAS officer Gopal Pillai, who retired as the Union home secretary in 2011.

A petition has also been filed by bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, along with his party colleague and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) leader Shehla Rashid.

There are also other petitions challenging the Centre's decision on Article 370.

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