The Supreme Court on September 4 said it wants National Conference party leader Mohammad Akbar Lone, a petitioner in the Article 370 abrogation challenge case, to file an affidavit stating that he “unconditionally accepts” that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and he owes allegiance to the country’s Constitution.
A Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud asked Mr. Lone to file the affidavit by September 5.
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On September 4, the Centre and other respondents accused Mr. Lone, a sitting Member of Parliament, of having raised slogans including “Pakistan Zindabad” in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 2018. They said he had till date expressed no remorse about his actions.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for Mr. Lone in the Article 370 case, said his client was a Member of the Lok Sabha. “He has sworn an oath as a Member to the Constitution of India. He is a citizen of India… How can he say otherwise,” Mr. Sibal reacted.
“But what you are saying is only a submission… We want it from him that he unconditionally accepts that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and he abides and owes allegiance to the Constitution,” Chief Justice Chandrachud told Mr. Sibal.
Earlier in the day, Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, for the Union government, demanded that Mr. Lone be made to file an affidavit pledging his allegiance to the Constitution of India.
He had urged the Supreme Court to act, saying if nothing was done, it might encourage others and “the efforts of the nation to bring normalcy, which has been substantially successful, will be affected”.
Mr. Mehta said Mr. Lone was no ordinary person but a sitting MP. The Solicitor-General said Mr. Lone would have been the lead petitioner following the withdrawal of Shah Faesal, had the court not given the generic title ‘In Re Article 370 of the Constitution’ to the case.
“He [Mr. Lone] should file an affidavit saying that ‘I owe allegiance to the Constitution of India because I am before the highest court of the country’. He must say ‘I strongly oppose terrorism and secession by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir’... He must come on record,” Mr. Mehta said in an impassioned manner
Appearing for other respondents supporting the Centre’s move to repeal Article 370, senior advocates Rakesh Dwivedi and Mahesh Jethmalani said “if he is invoking the Constitution of India here, he cannot stand outside the Constitution of India… It is a matter of propriety”.
Mr. Mehta even said the court should “take up” the submissions of Mr. Lone only if he “apologised”.
Mr. Sibal, appearing for Mr. Lone in the opening days of the challenge to the dilution of Article 370, had argued that the President of India had no blanket powers to silence the will of the people of J&K through a series of executive acts which abolished the Statehood of J&K and abrogated provisions of Article 370.
“There has been no representative democracy in J&K in the past five years… In the guise of restoring democracy, we have decimated democracy. The State of J&K historically represented a unique relationship unlike princely states which integrated into the Union,” he had argued.