Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Article 370 case to stay with 5-judge bench as SC refuses to refer pleas to larger bench

New Delhi, March 2: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to refer to a larger bench a batch of pleas, challenging the constitutional validity of Centre’s decision of August 5 last year to abrogate provisions of Article 370.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising justices SK Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant has been hearing the pleas challenging the revocation of Article 370 and had on January 23 reserved its order on this issue.
NGO People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, and an intervenor have sought to refer the matter to a larger bench.
They have sought reference to a larger bench on the ground that two judgments of apex court — Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1959 and Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1970 — which dealt with the issue of Article 370 are in direct conflict with each other and, therefore, the current bench of five judges could not hear the issue.
Opposing the plea, the Centre had said abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir is “irreversible”.
Emphasizing the purpose of the story on Jammu and Kashmir’s integration Attorney General KK Venugopal had told the court the integration of the Indian States shows the consolidation of the country.
Referring to the two earlier judgments, Venugopal had said they were not related to each other and dealt with different issues. He had said the verdict in Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir did not deal with Article 370, rather with the question whether the Maharaja had the legislative power or not.
While referring to the verdict in Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir, Venugopal had said though it dealt with some aspects of Article 370, it was not in direct conflict with the verdict in the Kaul case and so the present issue should not be referred to a larger bench.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir administration, had said he adopts the arguments of the Attorney General and favours no reference to a larger bench.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference, had said he supports the Centre on the question that no reference is needed to a larger bench.
New Delhi abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019. (Courtesy: TS)