SC refuses to refer Article 370 matter to larger seven-judge Bench

Representational image. File  

A five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana on Monday declined a plea to refer to a larger Bench petitions challenging the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The Bench said it would continue to hear the case on merits.

The President's notification on August 5 of 2019 abrogated the special status of J&K by blunting Article 370, which sources the privileges accorded to the erstwhile State in accordance with the assurances that were made in the Instrument of Accession signed between the J&K ruler and the Government of India.

After the order was pronounced, one of the lawyers for the petitioners sought an early date to resume the hearing.

The Bench said a date would be fixed after considering the dates for the nine-judge Sabarimala Bench.

The Bench had heard arguments and reserved its decision on whether there was a “direct conflict” between the judgments of 1959 and 1970 on the nature and extent of Article 370.

‘No conflict between orders’

Justice Ramana, who pronounced the 42-page order, concluded that there was no conflict between the 1959 and 1970 judgments.

The 1959 one, Prem Nath Kaul versus State of Jammu and Kashmir, indicated that Article 370 was applicable only till the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution was enacted on January 26, 1957. After that, no further changes could be made to the relationship between India and Jammu and Kashmir.

But the judgment reported in 1970 in Sampath Prakash versus State of Jammu and Kashmir was argued by some petitioners to have ignored the 1959 verdict by concluding that Article 370 was permanent in nature and a “perennial source of power” for the Centre to govern its relationship with the State of J&K.

The court explained that the “Constitution Bench in the Prem Nath Kaul case did not discuss the continuation or cessation of the operation of Article 370 after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of the State. This was not an issue in question before the court, unlike in the Sampat Prakash case, where the contention was specifically made before, and refuted by, the court”.

Finally, the order concluded that the court saw no reason to read into the Prem Nath Kaul case an interpretation that resulted in it being in conflict with its subsequent judgments.

“There are no contrary observations made in the Sampat Prakash case to that of Prem Nath Kaul, accordingly, the case of Sampat Prakash is not per incuriam," the Bench said.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 5:50:52 AM |

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