SC commences hearing on pleas challenging abrogation of Article 370


File Photo Supreme Court

File Photo Supreme Court

The Supreme Court Tuesday commenced hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The hearing before a 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Justice N V Ramana, started with senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal and other petitioners, advancing his arguments.

Ramachandran told the bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, about the broad contours of what he would argue in the case.

He raised the point as to whether by using the “temporary cover” of President’s rule, an “irreversible change in a federal relationship between a state of the Union and the Union” could be brought in.

Ramachandran said he would also argue on whether it could have been done without the participation of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, through their elected representatives, since the erstwhile state was split into two Union Territories.

“The second major head will be with particular reference to Jammu and Kashmir that is when Article 370 prescribes within itself the mechanism for alteration in that relationship, whether that mechanism can be disobeyed while making this irreversible change,” he said.

A batch of petitions has been filed in the matter including that of private individuals, lawyers, activists and political parties like National Conference, Sajjad Lone-led J&K Peoples Conference and CPI (M) leader Mohd Yousuf Tarigami.

The court had on November 14 refused to pass any interim order on the pleas saying it might lead to delay in the matter and the apex court would settle all the issues at one go after hearing all the parties.

The court had also asked the parties to prepare a common compilation of all the documents so that hearing of the matter becomes easier.

The petition on behalf of NC was filed by Lok Sabha MPs Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi. In 2015, Justice (retd) Masoodi had ruled that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution.

A plea was also filed by a group of former defence officers and bureaucrats — professor Radha Kumar, ex-member of Home Ministry’s Group of Interlocutors for J&K (2010-11), former J&K cadre IAS officer Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, Major Gen. (retd) Ashok Kumar Mehta, ex-Punjab-cadre IAS officer Amitabha Pande and ex-Kerala-cadre IAS officer Gopal Pillai.