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India’s Supreme Court to Decide Whether Scrapping Article 370 Was Constitutional

As petitions challenging the restrictions imposed in Kashmir pile up, the Chief Justice of India has said a five-judge bench will look into the issue in early October.

by Shamani Joshi
28 August 2019, 9:30am

A Kashmiri boy displays a placard from a window at a protest site after Friday prayers during restrictions, after scrapping of the special constitutional status for Kashmir by the Indian government, in Srinagar on  August 23, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Almost a month after the Modi government passed an order revoking Article 370 on August 5, that gave special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), India’s Supreme Court has taken up the responsibility of reviewing whether this move was constitutional or not. The Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi declared that a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court would be in charge of examining the case in early October, dismissing the argument that this would fuel “cross-border repercussions”. He also sent out a notice to the government to respond to petitions challenging this revocation and all the restrictions consequently put upon the state of J&K, within seven days.

Ever since India scrapped the special status conferred to Kashmir, the government has been heavily criticised for how it’s handled the controversial situation, with international organisations like Amnesty claiming that major human rights violations were going unnoticed in the Valley.

While some are ecstatic that they can now marry Kashmiri girls and buy land in the region, many have raised the question of whether this decision was constitutionally valid considering it involved all communication lines being blocked, more than 50,000 additional troops being moved to the Valley, political leaders like Mehbooba Mufti being arrested and large gatherings being prohibited after the order was passed.

The petitioners who have raised their voices against the abrogation of Article 370 include advocate ML Sharma, bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, former JNU student leader Shehla Rashid, and Radha Kumar, the former interlocutor in Jammu and Kashmir.

The decision to review the revocation also comes a few days after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to raise the issue with the United Nations (UN) and opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi were prevented from entering the state.

The Attorney General of India said that the proceedings of the court would be presented before the UN, and would take into account arguments as well as counter-arguments. “We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change,” said the bench.

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