The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred a batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to a five-member Constitution Bench, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, with Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer said the Constitution Bench will hear the matter in early October.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the top court’s notice would have “cross-border repercussions” and can be misused. Attorney General KK Venugopal also opposed it and said: “This is a very sensitive issue. Statements made here are sent to UN.”

The top court also allowed Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury and a law student to visit Jammu and Kashmir.

On Yechury’s petition to meet Kashmiri politician and the party’s general secretary Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, the court asked Mehta what was the harm if a citizen of India wanted to meet his friend. The court, however, directed that Yechury should not do anything except meet Tarigami, or else it will be construed as violation of the order. The judges rejected Mehta’s suggestion to escort Yechury to Kashmir but said that if the CPI(M) leader indulged in any political activities, authorities could bring it to their notice.

They allowed Kashmiri student Mohammad Aleem Sayed to travel to Anantnag district to meet his parents and ordered the state government to facilitate travel and provide police protection for him. The court told Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde that if the student wanted to travel to Anantnag on Thursday, then the court order will be made available to him in an hour. In his petition, the student said he was unable to contact his parents since August 4, and contended that the information blackout and restrictions on movement of people is violation of fundamental rights granted under the Constitution.

The court also issued a notice to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file their responses within seven days on Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin’s petition. Bhasin sought removal of restrictions on media personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.

The court said: “We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change”.

Jammu and Kashmir has been under an unprecedented lockdown since August 5, when the central government decided to revoke its special status and split it into two union territories. Thousands of troops have been deployed to prevent violence and protests in the region and communication lines have been cut in most parts.

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