Supreme Court Set to Hear Landmark Petitions Challenging Revocation of Article 370

New Delhi, 10th July 2023: Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, will lead a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court in hearing nearly 23 petitions challenging the Indian government’s decision to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution. This significant decision led to the bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The petitioners argue that the revocation violated constitutional provisions. It is worth noting that the court’s consideration of these pleas comes almost four years after Article 370 was scrapped on August 5, 2019.

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, providing exemptions from certain laws applicable to other states. It allowed Jammu and Kashmir to have a separate constitution, a state flag, and internal administrative autonomy while remaining a part of India from 1952 until October 31, 2019. Under this provision, except for Defense, Foreign Affairs, Communications, and Ancillary matters, the state government’s concurrence was required for the application of other laws.

Article 370 granted residents of Jammu and Kashmir the privilege of living under a distinct set of laws concerning citizenship, fundamental rights, property rights, and more, separate from those applicable to other Indian citizens. Article 35A, which was part of Article 370, provided special privileges and rights to the people of Kashmir. It prohibited outsiders from permanently settling or acquiring immovable property in the state and also barred non-permanent residents from obtaining government jobs in the state.

Sheikh Abdullah, appointed as the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir by Maharaja Hari Singh and Jawaharlal Nehru, drafted Article 370 in 1947. The provision came into effect on November 17, 1952, following the advice of the State Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. A presidential order in 1954 specified the articles that applied to the state and introduced Article 35A.

Article 370 was revoked by the ruling party Bhartiya Janata Party on August 5, 2019. Its abolition meant that the people of Jammu and Kashmir no longer had dual citizenship and were treated the same as other Indian citizens. The revocation was supported by a resolution that received a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Indian parliament. Additionally, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 was passed, leading to the division of the state into the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh on October 31, 2019. Following the decision, restrictions were imposed, schools were closed, and internet services were suspended, leading to a state of lockdown in the Valley.

The Supreme Court has received a total of 23 petitions challenging the government’s decision to revoke Article 370, resulting in the formation of a five-judge bench. These petitions question the constitutional validity of the Presidential Orders of August 2019 and The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. The J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019, which led to the reorganization of the state into two Union Territories, is also being challenged. The petitions raise concerns about the imposition of a curfew, the alteration of India’s federal structure without the consent of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and the proclamation of President’s Rule in the state in December 2018. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear these petitions on July 11, 2023.

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