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A massive boost for Modi Government, Supreme Court upholds abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir

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The Supreme Court gave a massive verdict on the Modi government’s 2019 act to amend Article 370 of the Constitution. The abrogation ended the special status conferred to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Supreme Court held the Constitutional order that revoked Article 370 as valid.

A five-judge Constitution bench, presided by CJI (Chief Justice of India) DY Chandrachud, had reserved its verdict on as many as 23 petitions in the matter on September 5 this year, after 16 days of hearings. The bench also comprised Justices S K Kaul, Sanjeev Khanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.

CJI DY Chandrachud said that Jammu and Kashmir held no internal sovereignty after accession to India. He said there was no prima facie case that the President’s 2019 orders were mala file (in bad faith) or extraneous exercise of power. While the court said the reorganisation of the erstwhile state into Union Territories in 2019 was a temporary move, it directed the Centre for the restoration of statehood and for Legislative Assembly elections to be held.

Justice Kaul recommended in his concurring opinion that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be set up in J&K, for an acknowledgement of the acts of alleged rights violations in the region.

The Supreme court said no maladies in the exercise of power under Article 370(3) by the President to issue an August 2019 order. “Thus, we hold the exercise of Presidential power to be valid.”

“The power of the President under Article 370(3) to issue a notification that Article 370 ceases to exist subsists even after the dissolution of the J&K Constituent Assembly. The recommendation of the Constituent Assembly was not binding on the President. J&K Constituent Assembly was intended to be a temporary body,” the CJI said.

He added, “Article 370 was an interim arrangement due to war conditions in the State. Textual reading also indicates that it is a temporary provision. The marginal note says it is temporary and transitory.”

On August 5, 2019, the Central government announced the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir granted under Article 370 and split the region into two union territories.

The Modi government had defended its decision to abrogate Article 370, saying there was no “constitutional fraud” in repealing the provision that accorded special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

However, several petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 that divided the erstwhile state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh – were referred to a Constitution bench in 2019.

PM Modi hailed the SC ruling

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hailed the Supreme Court upholding the Centre’s decision to scrap the Article 370 in 2019.

‘Working to finish the terror ecosystem in J&K,’ says Amit Shah

Home Minister Amit Shah also shared his happiness with this Supreme Court’s ruling.

Opposition expressed its displeasure

The Congress demanded “immediate restoration of statehood to Jammu and Kashmir”. The party also demanded that the Assembly elections in J&K be held immediately. This has been its stand over the past few years.

Senior Congress leaders and lawyers, P Chidambaram and Abhishek Singhvi, spelt out the party’s position over the SC verdict at a press conference in Delhi.

Chidambaram said the verdict needed a “careful study”, adding that “Prima facie, we respectfully disagree with judgment on the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated”.

“Full statehood must be restored immediately. The aspirations of the people of Ladakh must also be fulfilled. We welcome the SC direction to hold Assembly elections. However, we believe elections should be held immediately and there is no reason to wait till September 30, 2024,” he said.

“We are also disappointed that SC did not decide the question of dismembering the state and reducing its status to two union territories,” Chidambaram added.

National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah on Monday said he is disappointed but not disheartened with the Supreme Court’s verdict on pleas challenging the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution.

Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti claimed that the political leaders in the state, including herself, are under house arrest. However, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has called the claim baseless.

The CPI(M), also a petitioner in the Supreme Court in the matter, issued a statement saying that the judgement is “disturbing and has serious consequences for the federal structure of our Constitution which is one of its fundamental features.”

AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi said that the “downgrading of the state to Union territory is a grand betrayal” to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and this will not stop the Union government from making other states into union territories.

Indian Supreme Court’s ruling has no ‘Legal Value’, says Pakistan

Pakistan on Monday said Supreme Court verdict upholding the abrogation of Article 370 has “no legal value”, asserting that the international law does not recognise New Delhi’s “unilateral and illegal actions” of August 5, 2019.

“International law doesn’t recognise India’s unilateral and illegal actions of 5 August 2019. The judicial endorsement by the Indian Supreme Court has no legal value. Kashmiris have an inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with the relevant UN SC resolutions,” caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Mr. Jilani said India has “no right to make unilateral decisions on the status of this disputed territory” against the will of the Kashmiri people and Pakistan.

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