The Supreme Court has rejected a petition seeking approval for the constitutionality of the removal of Article 370, a provision that granted unique privileges to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. The court’s decision was made by a group of judges led by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, who found the plea to be misguided. The court pointed out that the matter regarding the constitutional validity of the abrogation of Article 370 is already under consideration by a constitutional bench of the apex court.
The bench expressed its bewilderment at the nature of the petition. It questioned the petitioner’s intention in asking the court to validate the removal of Article 370. The bench, consisting of Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra in addition to Chief Justice Chandrachud, inquired about the motivation behind the petitioner’s stance. “Why are you requesting this court to issue a declaration of validity for the abrogation of Article 370? What prompts your client to pursue this?” the judges asked the petitioner’s counsel, according to PTI reports.
The bench further noted that the petitioner had submitted a public interest litigation (PIL) in which they sought a formal acknowledgment of the constitutionality of the abrogation of Article 370(1) of the Constitution, as well as the removal of Article 35-A.
The bench clarified that the court cannot issue a declaration about the constitutional validity of a governmental action. They emphasized that the matter is already being deliberated upon by the constitutional bench. “We cannot render a judgment on the constitutional validity of the actions taken by the Union Government. Moreover, the matter of constitutional validity is already under review by the constitution bench,” the judges remarked.
As a result, the top court concluded that the present petition was flawed in its approach and subsequently dismissed it.
Article 35-A, an addition to the Constitution through a Presidential Order in 1954, conferred special rights and advantages upon the residents of Jammu and Kashmir. This article also prohibited individuals from outside the state from acquiring any property within its borders. Additionally, it denied property rights to women who married individuals from other regions.
In a significant move on August 5, 2019, the Central Government decided to revoke the distinct status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, transforming it into two union territories.
The central government’s revocation of Article 370 essentially annulled the unique status that Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed.
A constitutional bench consisting of five judges, with the Chief Justice as the head, is currently examining a series of petitions contesting the abrogation of Article 370 as well as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019. This act facilitated the division of the former state into two separate union territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.