Article 370: Supreme Court refuses to refer pleas to larger bench

The five-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana will continue to hear the pleas.

The Supreme Court Monday refused to refer the petitions challenging the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution to a larger bench. The five-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana will continue to hear the pleas.

The court stated that there was no “direct conflict” of opinion between two judgments — Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1959 and Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1970 — about the nature and extent of Article 370 and hence no larger bench is required.

During the January 23 hearing, advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for People’s Union for Civil Liberties, read out statements of Constituent Assembly members, including Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, to highlight the intention of the framers of the Constitution on the continuity of Article 370. Senior advocate Zafar Shah, who appeared on behalf of Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association said the Indian and the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution were parallel to each other.

Both Parikh and Shah sought that the cases challenging the scrapping of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir be referred to a larger bench of seven judges since two previous judgments that dealt with Article 370, both delivered by five-judge benches, are in conflict.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, had told the bench that “the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, has now become a “fait accompli” leaving sole option to accept the change”. Referring to the two earlier judgments, Venugopal had said that they were not related to each other and dealt with different issues.

The Centre on August 5 had abrogated Article 370 through a resolution in the Parliament and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories of J&K and Ladakh. At least 23 petitions were filed in the top court challenging the government’s decision of scrapping away the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Source: The Indian Express

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