Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and spokesperson of the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration M.Y. Tarigami has urged the Supreme Court to “expeditiously” begin hearing petitions challenging the Centre’s abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories (UTs), saying the government was taking “irreversible actions” that may render the pending case “infructuous”.
Several petitions, including one by Mr. Tarigami, have been waiting in the Supreme Court for nearly two years. The petitions were referred to a five-judge Bench in August 2019 by the then Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi. The case was last listed before a Constitution Bench led by Justice Gogoi’s successor, Chief Justice S.A. Bobde (now retired), on March 2, 2020.
The other four judges on the Constitution Bench are Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R. Subhash Reddy, B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant.
The petitions challenged a Presidential Order of August 5 that blunted Article 370. The Article had accorded special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir since 1954 in accordance with the Instrument of Accession. The special status was bestowed by incorporating Article 35A in the Constitution. Article 35A was incorporated by an order of President Rajendra Prasad in 1954 on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet. Parliament was not consulted when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Constitution through a Presidential Order issued under Article 370.
Following the abrogation, the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Act of 2019 came into force and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into UTs “without a Legislative Assembly”. “Immediately after August 5, 2019, a strict security lockdown was imposed in Jammu and Kashmir that last over a year, along with a communication blackout and months-long Internet shutdown,” Mr. Tarigami, represented by advocate P.V. Dinesh, submitted.
Seeking an early listing of his writ petition, which was admitted in October 2019, Mr. Tarigami said the “irreversible actions” of the Centre included the constitution of a delimitation commission to mark boundaries for constituencies before an Assembly election could be held, the amendment to the J&K Development Act (allowing persons who are not permanent residents to buy non-agricultural land in the erstwhile State) and closing down institutions like the J&K State Women’s Commission, State Accountability Commission, State Consumer Protection Commission and the State Human Rights Commission.
“It is submitted that if the matters are not heard urgently, grave injustice will be caused to the applicant,” it said.