A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday declined to ask a larger bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, Live Law reported. The bench headed by Justice NV Ramana had reserved its order on January 23.

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 five-judge benches, a bench of seven or more judges should be constituted to hear the petitions, he argued. However, the Supreme Court said on Monday that there was no contradiction between the two judgements.

The other petitioners in the case include non-governmental organisation People’s Union of Civil Liberties and the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association.

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.

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