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The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court set up to hear the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 today granted four weeks’ time to the Centre to file its response. The Bench will now hear the matter next on November 14.
A Constitution Bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant, is hearing these matters.
When the Bench assembled to hear the batch of petitions today, Attorney General KK Venugopal sought more time to file a response.
This request of the Centre was met with opposition from the petitioners. Senior Counsel Raju Ramachandran pointed out that the reorganisation of the erstwhile state will come into effect from October 31. The process will be irreversible and the petitions must not be rendered infructuous, Ramachandran told the Court.
However, without passing any order on the Reorganization Act, the Court adjourned the case till November 14. The Centre is required to file its response in four weeks.
Over the past two months, a number of petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging various aspects associated with the abrogation of Article 370.
The first step to the removal of Article 370 came on August 5, when the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 2019, was introduced to supersede the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954. The 1954 Order had listed out provisions of the Constitution of India that would not apply to Jammu and Kashmir. In its place, the 2019 Order was introduced to provide that all provisions of the Constitution of India will apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with a few exceptions and modifications.
Though the power to abrogate or modify Article 370 was conferred with the President under clause (3) of the Article, there was a pre-condition to the same – concurrence by the Constituent Assembly of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The Constituent Assembly had, however, ceased to exist as far back as in the 1950s.
In order to get over this hurdle, the Presidential Order under challenge here had amended Article 367 to replace the reference to Constituent Assembly under Article 370(3) to mean Legislative Assembly.
The Presidential Order of August 5 also paved the way for the introduction of the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 which bifurcated the State of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union Territories – Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir, and Union Territory of Ladakh.