The Supreme Court on Saturday (September 28) set up a five-judge Constitution bench to hear the pleas related to the abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi had referred the issue to a five-judge bench on August 28. The bench will be headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprises justices SK Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Suryakant.
An official source said that the bench will begin the hearing from the beginning of October to examine the constitutional validity of the scrapping of the article’s provisions and the subsequent presidential orders on it.
Several petitions have been filed challenging the Centre’s decision abrogating the Article 370 provisions and bifurcating the state into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The Union Territories will come into existence on October 31.
Petitions have also been filed by parties People’s Conference, National Conference (NC), and several other individuals, including the first plea filed by advocate ML Sharma.
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The petition on behalf of the NC was filed by Lok Sabha MPs Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retired) Hasnain Masoodi. Lone is a former speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Masoodi is a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
In 2015, Masoodi had ruled that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution.
Lone and Masoodi submitted that the apex court now has to examine whether the Centre can “unilaterally” unravel the unique federal scheme under the cover of President’s rule while diminishing crucial elements of due process and rule of law.
“This case, therefore, goes to the heart of Indian federalism, democratic processes and role of the apex court as the guardian of the federal structure,” the petition said, according to PTI.
The two MPs stated in the petition that Article 370 was considered as carefully drafted in order to ensure the peaceful and democratic accession of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union.
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The two contended that the Presidential Orders and the new legislation unconstitutionally undermine the scheme of Article 370. The first Presidential Order uses Article 370 (1)(d) – that was meant to apply other provisions of the Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir – to alter Article 370 itself and thereby alter the terms of federal relationship between Jammu and Kashmir and Union of India, they had stated in the petition.
Other pleas include one filed by a group of bureaucrats and former defence officers. They have also sought directions to declare the abrogation of Article 370 as “unconstitutional, void and inoperative”.
The plea was filed by professor Radha Kumar, who was a former member of the Home Ministry’s Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir (2010-11). Other petitioners were Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, former IAS officer of J&K cadre Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar Mehta, former Kerala-cadre IAS officer Gopal Pillai, who retired as the Union home secretary in 2011, and former Punjab-cadre IAS officer Amitabha Pande.
Shah Faesal, along with his party colleague and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union (JNUSU) leader Shehla Rashid, has filed a petition too.
(With inputs from agencies)