New Delhi, Feb 17: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday said it would take a call on listing for hearing a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, reports said.
A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala said a specific date will be given for hearing a series of petitions challenging the removal of special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. This, the court said, in response to submissions of senior advocate Raju Ramchandran, appearing for one of the parties, that the matter needed an urgent hearing.
“All right. I will take a call on it,” the CJI said. The batch of petitions which are pending before the apex court since 2019, have not been taken up for hearing since March 2020. The matter was mentioned before several times for urgent listing but did not come up.
In December 2022, the matter was mentioned before CJI DY Chandrachud for urgent listing. “We will examine and give a date”, CJI had said then.
On April 25 and September 23, last year, a bench headed by the then CJI N V Ramana, since retired, had agreed to list for hearing the pleas.
The apex court will have to re-constitute a five-judge bench to hear the pleas as ex-CJI Ramana and Justice R Subhash Reddy, who were part of the five-judge bench which had heard the pleas, have retired.
The Article 370 case has been pending in the Supreme Court for nearly three years. The case had not come up after a five-judge Bench refused to refer the petitions to a larger Bench in March 2020. The petitions have challenged a Presidential Order of August 5, 2019 which blunted Article 370. The Article had accorded special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir since 1954 in accordance with the Instrument of Accession. The special status was bestowed on Jammu and Kashmir by incorporating Article 35A in the Constitution. Article 35A was incorporated by an order of President Rajendra Prasad in 1954 on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet. The Parliament was not consulted when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Constitution through a Presidential Order issued under Article 370.
In the separate petitions it has been contended that the August 5 Order and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019 are arbitrary. The pleas have also challenged the proclamation of President’s Rule in the State in December 2018. Presidential Order of August 5, the petitions plead, substituted the concurrence of the Governor of the State government to change the very character of a federal unit.