The Supreme Court will decide on Monday whether a batch of petitions that challenged the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir should be heard by a larger bench, of not less than seven judges, the Hindustan Times reported on Saturday. A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant had on January 23 reserved its order in the case.
Senior counsel Dinesh Dwivedi, who appeared for an intervener in the case, had argued that two earlier judgements by the Supreme Court contradicted each other with regard to the scope and intent of Article 370. Since those judgements were delivered by a five-judge bench, a bench of seven or more judges should be constituted to hear the petitions, he argued.
In the Prem Nath Kaul verdict of 1959, the Supreme Court said that plenary powers of the ruler of Kashmir were not limited by Article 370. It said the temporary autonomy granted to Jammu and Kashmir was based on the assumption that the ultimate relationship between India and the erstwhile state would be determined by the Constituent Assembly of the region.
In the Sampat Prakash judgement of 1968, the Supreme Court held that Article 370 will cease to be operative only if the president of India issues a direction to that effect, on a recommendation made by the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir.
In January, the Supreme Court said it will refer the Centre’s decision to a seven-judge Constitution bench only if there was a conflict in the earlier two verdicts of the top court.
The Centre and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which is under President’s Rule, had argued that the two judgements were not contradictory, and that the sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was temporary.
The Centre had on August 5 last year abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, imposed a lockdown in the region, and divided the state into the two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.