NEW DELHI: The long-waited hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, that conferred a special status to J&K, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 will take place after the week-long Dussehra break of the Supreme Court.
The J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The Supreme Court begins its Dussehra break on October 3 and will resume working on October 10.
“We will certainly list it”, Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said after an advocate mentioned the matter for listing, telling the court it was pending a hearing for over a year.
However, Chief Justice Lalit, heading a bench which also comprises Justices Indira Banerjee and S. Ravindra Bhat, said he will have to reconstitute the bench of five judges that had initially heard the matter.
Earlier, on April 26, 2022, then Chief Justice N.V. Ramana had said the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 will be heard in July, but it did not get listed.
A number of petitions are pending before the court which are challenging the scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcating the state into two Union territories. The petitions challenging the delimitation exercise under the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 too are pending adjudication.
These petitions have said that sweeping irreversible changes are being brought about by the Centre that impact the rights of a large number of people, despite the fact that petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 conferring special status to J&K and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union territories are pending before the top court.
The petitions said the Centre has constituted a delimitation commission to carve out the constituencies before Assembly elections can be held.
On August 5, 2019, the Centre announced the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and split the state into two Union territories.
A five-judge bench headed by Justice Ramana (later CJI and since retired) and comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R. Subhash Reddy (since retired), B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant had on March 2, 2020 declined the plea to refer the Article 370 abrogation and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union territories to a larger seven-judge bench. The five-judge Constitution Bench had said there was no conflict in the position taken by earlier two benches of five judges each on the interpretation of Article 370 of the Constitution, now abrogated.
The court had then said the schedule for the hearing of the
main matter -- challenging the abrogation of Article 370 -- would depend on the hearing of the Sabarimala and other matters relating to gender justice and essential religious practices by a nine-judge bench.
Petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 have been filed, among others, by the National Conference, veteran journalist Prem Shankar Jha, the People’s Union of Civil Liberties, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, and some private individuals, lawyers and activists.