The National Conference has moved the Supreme Court challenging the revoking of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in the Constitution and reorganization of the state into two Union Territories, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. A Kashmiri lawyer too has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Presidential order.
Parliament on August 6 passed a resolution supporting the presidential order scrapping the provisions of the Article 370, thus making it redundant.
The National Conference, a regional party of the erstwhile state, has been at the forefront opposing the Centre’s decision on J&K. The party has referred it unconstitutional and also threatened to fight it to the last bit legally.
NC leaders, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Mahsood, moved the apex court, representing the party. Omar Abdullah, National Conference leader, has said the presidential order would lead into dangerous consequences and apparently indicated at civil unrest that could potentially engulf the Valley.
The petition seeks the top court’s response to “whether the Union Government can unilaterally unravel this unique federal scheme, under cover of President’s Rule, while undermining crucial elements of due process and the rule of law. This case therefore, goes to the heart of Indian federalism, democratic processes and the role of the Supreme Court as the guardian of the federal structure”.
The petition contended that the framers of the Constitution advocated for a pluralistic federal model. Article 370 was extensively considered and carefully drafted in order to ensure the peaceful and democratic accession of the formerly princely state of Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union, contended the petition, identifying the significance of Article 370, defining and regulating the relationship between J&K and the Union of India.
“The Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir drafted a Constitution for the state, specifically recognising that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of the Union. Crucially, the existence of the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir is recognised in the scheme of Article 370,” contended the petition claiming the Presidential Order and Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act unconstitutionally undermine the scheme of Article 370.
Citing Swaraj or self-governance, the petition said the right to autonomous self-government within a federal framework is an essential fundamental right. These valuable rights have been taken away without the “procedure established by law” in a manner that violates every canon of Constitutional morality.
The petitioners urged the apex court to declare presidential order unconstitutional, void and inoperative.
Under Article 370, the state of Jammu and Kashmir had autonomy and the Legislative Assembly was free to draft its own laws except in the areas of communication, defence, finance, and foreign affairs. People from outside were prohibited from purchasing land in the state.
The Supreme Court has also been moved seeking direction for ease of movement of media persons in the Valley to report freely on the situation there.
In the plea, Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, has sought directions for an enabling environment for journalists to practice their profession freely in Jammu and Kashmir.
It also sought immediate relaxation in the debilitating restrictions imposed through complete shutdown of internet and telecommunication services, and curbs on the movement of photo journalists/reporters to ensure the freedom of media.
The petitioner’s counsels — Vrinda Grover, Soutik Banerjee and Ratna Appnender — have sought directions to the J&K government to relax the restrictions to help them report freely on the situation in the Valley after the clampdown on August 4.
The petitioner said she had not been able to print and publish the Kashmir edition of Kashmir Times due to clampdown on communication services and movement, causing blockade on media activities, including publishing and reporting on the situation in Kashmir.
She submitted that such restrictions were curbing the rights of journalists under the provisions of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution, and the right to know the conditions of residents of Valley.
The petitioner said complete internet and telecommunication shutdown, severe restrictions on movement in the Valley at a time when significant political and constitutional changes were being undertaken was fuelling anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of Kashmir.
She also said the information blackout was a grave violation of the right of the people as the media can’t report on the ongoing developments and publish opinion of the residents of Kashmir.
A Kashmiri lawyer has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Presidential order that revoked Article 370, which granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
Advocate Shakir Shabir in his petition claims that the Presidential Order that amended Article 367, which resulted in the revocation of J&K’s special status, could not have been amended without the concurrence of the state Assembly and was ultra vires the Constitution.
The plea contended that the approval of the state Assembly reflected the will of the people, which was required before effecting such sweeping changes that altered the history and geography of J&K.
“The action taken by the Union government is reckless, absent of any power or constitutional authority. The lives of millions of the inhabitants of the region of Jammu and Kashmir are jeopardised,” said the petition.
Shabir also claimed that the state Governor exercised his powers illegally, as he never consulted the Council of Ministers, which comprised elected representatives from the erstwhile state.
“The decision was taken unilaterally by the Executive, without any consultation with the Legislative Assembly of the state,” argued the petition.
The petition also informed the court about the present situation of “lockdown” in the state. “The people have been forcefully detained in their homes and the entire state has been turned into a garrison. The very fundamentals of a democratic nation have been shaken up by the illegal and arbitrary action of the government,” it added.
So far, two petitions have been filed in the apex court challenging the revoking of Article 370 and making Article 35A redundant. (IANS)