The Supreme Court on Thursday postponed the hearing of the petitions challenging the abrogation of the special constitutional status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, Bar and Bench reported. A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Justice NV Ramana, asked the lawyers to put together one common compilation of all the materials related to the pleas to ensure the proceedings are easier.
The Supreme Court made the demand as it began hearing a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and Article 35A. There are more than 20 petitions with two new pleas being admitted by the court on Thursday. The counsel said it would require more time for the common compilation.
The top court said it would hear the case again on December 10.
Advocate S Prasanna is responsible for putting together the material for the petitioners while lawyer Ankur Talwar will compile the data on behalf of the respondents. The Supreme Court also asked the Centre to file a counter affidavit on or before November 22.
Senior lawyer Rajeev Dhawan, representing the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference, appealed to the judges to hear matters such as assets division, and transfer of properties. However, the Supreme Court said it would pass its judgement on the case in its entirety at the same time.
India had on August 5 rescinded the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, paving the way for the creation of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. These came into existence on October 31.
The Centre also imposed curfew-like restrictions in August. The restrictions have gradually been eased in Kashmir, with mobile phone connectivity restored and schools and colleges reopened. However, an internet ban continues, and senior leaders of local political parties remain in detention. There have also been reports of clashes between security personnel and protestors. Several petitions in Supreme Court have challenged these restrictions and detentions.
In a 61-page counter affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Supreme Court on Monday, the Centre had said that Article 370 was neither in the national interest nor in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir. “The militants and separatist elements, with the support of foreign forces inimical to India, were taking advantage of the situation and sowing discord, discontent and even secessionist feelings among the populace of the state,” it has said in the affidavit. “What is more, the residents of the erstwhile state were also being denied all the benefits of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India to all other citizens of the country.”
It also told the Supreme Court that it spent three times more on a resident of Jammu and Kashmir than the rest of the India. The government said the decisions were taken strictly in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of India.
On Article 35A, the Centre claimed that it was ambiguous and a “serious obstacle” to the socio-economic development in Jammu and Kashmir. “It prevented investments in the State, impacted job creation...the women of the erstwhile State were discriminated against if they chose to marry a non-permanent resident”.
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