The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it will refer the Centre’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution to a seven-judge Constitution bench only if there was a conflict in the earlier two verdicts of the top court.
Senior advocates Dinesh Dwivedi and Sanjay Parikh, appearing for Prem Shankar Jha and non-governmental organisation People’s Union for Civil Liberties respectively, told a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana that the earlier verdicts were conflicting in nature.
The court asked petitioners to prove a direct conflict between the two judgements. The bench, also comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, told them to furnish their submissions on the conflict by Thursday. “You have to show us that there was direct conflict in two verdicts of apex court. Only then we will refer it to larger bench.”
Dwivedi and Nath referred to rulings more than 50 years old by five-judge benches in the Prem Nath Kaul and Sampat Prakash case, reported The Times of India. They said the top court had said Parliament could not change the character of Article 370, which gave special status to the state, as it was in the form of a constitutional obligation that arose from the instrument of accession signed by the Maharaja of Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Dwivedi had said that Article 370 of the Constitution was the only “tunnel of light” that maintained the relationship between the Centre and the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. “The Article 370 required that action of government of India should have concurrence of Jammu and Kashmir constituent assembly, which was dissolved in 1957 after framing the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir,” he had added.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran had argued that with Article 370, while the democratic power is with the state, the executive power is with the Union government.
A number of other petitions have also been filed by lawyers, activists, political parties and other people who have challenged the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which splits the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The arguments will continue on Thursday.