No larger Bench for Article 370 case

Supreme Court also denies conflict between the 1959 and 1970 judgments

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. 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.

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.

‘Perennial source’

But some petitioners argued that Sampath Prakash versus State of Jammu and Kashmir was judgment had 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 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.

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