The Union Government on Thursday apprised the Supreme Court that it cannot give an exact timeline for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood but it is ready to conduct elections. It also clarified that the Union Territory status of J&K is temporary.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the inability to give an exact timeframe for the conduct of elections is due to the repeated law and order disturbances in the valley but assured the court that substantial progress has been made to restore statehood.
‘The government is ready for elections. It is for the Election Commission of India and the Election Commission of State to take the call’, Mr. Mehta said.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal appearing for the petitioners however opposed the statistics provided by the Centre on the status of normalcy in the valley.
‘If you have 5,000 people under house arrest and 144 throughout the State, there can be no bandh! My request is please do not enter into the arena because we would have to counter it with all kinds of facts’, Mr. Sibal said.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Chandrachud however clarified that the challenge will be decided solely on the basis of constitutional arguments and not on the statistics presented by the Centre.
The CJI had earlier asked the Solicitor General to take instructions from the Union government on whether there is a definite timeline for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood while underscoring that the restoration of democracy is vital.
Notably, the court had pointed out that the wide chasm between the absolute autonomy of J&K as it existed on January 26, 1950, and its complete integration as brought about on August 5, 2019, had been substantially bridged in the interim period.
‘..It is obvious that a substantial degree of integration had already taken place between 1950 to 2019– in 69 years. And therefore what was done in 2019, was it really a logical step forward to achieve that integration?’, the CJI had asked.
On August 5, 2019, the Centre decided to strip the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir of special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories. By abrogating Article 370, the Central Government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Several petitions challenging the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, were referred to a Constitution Bench in 2019.Get the latest news from the Supreme Court hearing on Article 370 abrogation | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12