SC to HearArticle 370 PleasDaily, J&K Parties Apprehensive
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir’s (J&K) opposition political parties expressed apprehensions on Tuesday after theSupreme Court (SC) said that it would start hearing the 23 petitions challenging Article 370’s abrogationdaily from August 2 except on Mondays and Fridays.
A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant said that all parties have to file documents, compilations and written submissions by July 27.
The court also noted that the Centre’s statement that the latest affidavit filed by it,stating that the constitutional changes regarding J&K “brought unprecedented development, progress, security and stability to the region, which was often missing during the old Article 370 regime”, shall not be relied upon to argue on the aspect of constitutionality.
J&K opposition parties urged the judiciary not to rely on political justifications.
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples’ Conference president Sajad Lone tweetedthat “one of the biggest challenges facing the institution of judiciary is how they deal with Article 370 cases.”
“Per se, the affidavit filed by the Central government focuses on issues post-abrogation. What will eventually be discussed in the court is the legal pathway to abrogation, not the so-called perceived political or law and order benefits post-abrogation. Whether abrogation of Article 370 is good or bad for J&K is not what the apex court has to decide. They have to decide whether it was good or bad in law,” Lone said in a statement.
Lone argued that Article 370, in essence, a “form of federalism and a power-sharing arrangement”, has been “slandered and defamed beyond recognition” adding that the “biggest threats facing the country today are the attacks on its federal structure”.
The SC also deleted the names of IAS officer Shah Faesal and human rights activist and former JNU Students’ Union vice-president Shehla Rashid from the list of petitioners after they informed the court through their lawyer that they don’t want to be part of the petitions. The case has now been renamed as “In Re: Article 370”.
National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah welcomed the court’s decision to hearthe petitions daily. “We hope and appeal to SC to sum up the proceedings within the shortest possible time,” the former chief minister (CM) told reporters during a party function in Srinagar.
On Monday, he had termed the Centre’s arguments supporting the abrogation “political”. “These are definitely political arguments the BJP/Union Govt can make to sell their decision to the voter but they are not legal arguments. The entire case in the SC is about the illegality & unconstitutionality of what was done on 5th Aug 2019, not whether the Govt has a strong enough political case,” he tweeted.
NC leader and former three-time MLA Ruhullah Mehdi said that the “hartals”mentioned by the Centre in the affidavit as a thing of the past “were for secession”.Article 370 is for “accession”. “By abrogating the Art 370 unconstitutionally, the BJP has not done away with the argument for secession, for those who wanted it, it has weakened the argument for the accession and the faith in democracy,” he tweeted.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president and former CM Mehbooba Mufti was apprehensive about the SC’s decision to hear the petitions daily and said that the court’s decision to “not rely on GOIs affidavit vindicates that it doesn’t have a logical explanation to justify illegal abrogation of Article 370”.
“… There are legitimate apprehensions about why SC has taken up Article 370 with such alacrity after their visit to Kashmir. After remaining silent for four years, the decision to hear the case on a daily basis does evoke misgivings. Hope the constitution of this country by which judiciary swears is not sacrificed at the altar of power to satisfy the collective conscience of people who know little about the matter,” she tweeted.
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