The Centre and the J&K administration were also asked by the SC to respond in seven days after a petition sought directions for restoration of all modes of communication so that the media can function freely in the region.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday referred a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories to a five-judge Constitution bench, which will hear the issue in the first week of October. A bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, while seeking response from the Centre and the J&K administration, disagreed with Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that any issuance of notice to the Centre would have a “cross-border repercussion”.
Venugopal said whatever was being said by the court was sent before the UN. As the counsel appearing for both sides were involved in arguments and counter-arguments, the bench said: “We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change.” It also said all the matters would be listed for hearing in the first week of October.
The Centre and the J&K administration were also asked by the SC to respond in seven days after a petition sought directions for restoration of all modes of communication so that the media can function freely in the region. Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin has sought directions for the immediate restoration of communication lines. She wanted the Centre to relax all curbs on the movement of mediapersons in Kashmir and some districts of Jammu.
During the hearing, the apex court also allowed CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and another Kashmiri student at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University who wanted to meet his parents, to visit J&K. Yechury was seeking production of his party colleague Mohd Tarigami, who allegedly has been detained by the authorities. Asking Yechury not to treat it as a political visit, the judges restricted him from raising any other issue except health and safety of Tarigami.
Almost a dozen petitions have been filed on the J&K issue. The first petition challenging the Presidential order scrapping Article 370 was filed by advocate ML Sharma, who was later joined by another lawyer from J&K, Shakir Shabir. Another petition has been filed by Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, both Lok Sabha members of National Conference (NC), a prominent political party from J&K, alleging that the changes brought in the status of the state had taken away the rights of its citizens without their mandate.
Masoodi, a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, had in 2015 ruled that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution. Another plea was by a group of former defence officials and bureaucrats seeking directions declaring the Presidential orders of August 5 as “unconstitutional, void and inoperative”. One petition has also been filed by bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal along with his party colleague and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union leader Shehla Rashid.