Petitions in SC on J&K move

Supreme Court  

From the National Conference to a young son worried about his missing parents in the Valley to the editor of Kashmir Times fighting for free speech, a surge of petitions reached the Supreme Court on Saturday against the Centre’s “unilateral” move to impose curfew and unravel the unique federal structure of India by dividing Jammu and Kashmir “without taking consent from the people”.

Mohammad Aleem Syed, a young lawyer, told the apex court that he has not heard from his parents and family since August 4-5, 2019.

Curfew was imposed in the entire Valley on August 4.

The people of the State were isolated with no means of communication when a Presidential Order was issued on August 5 which deprived Jammu and Kashmir of its special rights and privileges. A new law was also passed dividing the State into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Curbs on media

The petition filed by Anuradha Basin, executive editor of Kashmir Times, published from Jammu and Srinagar, said the Centre should relax its restrictions and allow journalists “to practice their profession and exercise their right to report freely on the situation prevailing in J&K after clampdown on entire State on August 4, 2019”.

Ms. Basin, represented by senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, described the ground situation as that of “absolute and complete internet and telecommunication shutdown, severe restrictions on mobility and sweeping curtailment on information sharing in the Kashmir valley, at a time when significant political and constitutional changes are being undertaken in Delhi to the status of J&K”.

She said the information black-out was “fuelling anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of the Kashmir”.

The National Conference (NC) said it was calling upon the Supreme Court to answer whether the Centre could “unilaterally unravel the unique federal scheme, under cover of President’s Rule, while undermining crucial elements of due process and the rule of law".

The party said what happened to Jammu and Kashmir “goes to the heart of Indian federalism”.

“National integration is best served by a pluralistic federal model. Under this model, one size need not always fit all,” the NC challenged the constitutionality of the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the State.

It said the Presidential Order of August 5 substitutes the concurrence of the Governor for that of the State government to change the very character of a federal unit.

“In other words, the Presidential Order takes cover of a temporary situation, meant to hold the field until the return of the elected government, to accomplish a fundamentally, permanently, and irreversibly alteration of the status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir without the concurrence, consultation or recommendation of the people of that State, acting through their elected representatives,” the petition said.

It said the August 5 Order used Article 370 to demolish Article 370. It amounted to the overnight abrogation of the democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir upon its accession

The basic purpose of Article 370 was to facilitate the the extension of constitutional provisions to the State in an incremental and orderly manner, based upon the needs and requirements, without dismantling the State Constitution.

The August 5 Order, by replacing the recommendation of the ‘Constituent Assembly’ with that of the ‘Legislative Assembly’ in order to alter the terms of Article 370, assumes that the legislative Assembly of the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a power that its own Constitution, under Article 147, denies to it. Thus, the August 5 Order is ineffective, the petition said.

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Printable version | Nov 24, 2021 5:42:16 PM |

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