A Constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India is hearing a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution which conferred special status on the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir.The bench comprises Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, and Surya Kant.Over 20 petitions are pending before the Supreme Court challenging the Central government's 2019 decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution, which resulted in the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status. The erstwhile State was subsequently bifurcated into two Union Territories.When the matters were listed in March 2020, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court had decided not to refer the batch of petitions to a seven-judge Constitution Bench, despite some petitioners seeking such a reference.On August 2, the top court began final hearings in the matter with a question to the petitioners about whether the Constitution makers and Article 370 itself envisaged the provision as a permanent or temporary one.The Court sought to know whether the Article was envisaged as a permanent provision merely because the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which was empowered to recommend the deletion of the provision, ceased to exist in 1957.On August 4, the top court asked whether the Article would become part of the basic structure of the Constitution if it is accepted that Article 370 of the Constitution became permanent when the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir was dissolved in 1957.During the hearing of the matter on August 9, the Court said that in a Constitutional democracy like India, the opinion of people on public issues is sought through established institutions and not referendums as in the case of Brexit in the United Kingdom.The top court, on August 10, remarked that in no way was the integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India in 1948 conditional. The integration was absolute and complete in every which way, remarked CJI Chandrachud.On August 24, the Central government began its arguments in Supreme Court defending its 2019 move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution.Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, who represented the Central government, invoked Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and stated that the first Prime Minister had said that India would not recognize rulers of princely States who joined India as having any 'divine' rights.Yesterday's hearing in the matter saw the Supreme Court orally observe that Article 35A of the Constitution, which was repealed in 2019, effectively conferred special rights on the people of Jammu and Kashmir and, in the process, curtailed certain fundamental rights of persons domiciled in the rest of India.Live updates from today's hearing can be viewed here..Solicitor General: Article 370 is result of promise made by then Dominion of India to the people of J&K. I will deal with that contention because it will be easier to persuade lordships on the correct interpretation..SG: Article 291 and 362 provided for privy purses. But Centre under 366 removed the term princely states and hence there were no need for privy purses (any longer). That is not under consideration..CJI: We have to look at the original Madhav Rao Scindia case.. it places limitations in abrogating a constitutional position and deal with why recourse to Article 367 was taken in the case of 370 abrogation.SG Mehta: Federalism is a part of basic structure but the federal diversity can still exist within federalism.SG: It was the people of the State who were behind integration of the State with Union of India.SG: Article 370(1) permits the Prime Minister and Chief Minister of State to make change, alteration, choose not to apply any provision and like 35A create a constitutional provision only for J&K... like this discretion is now used to ensure that such a thing can never happen again. This is where the explanation to Article 367 plays a role....CJI: What was done in Madhav Rao was that Presidential Order was issued... to stay the provisions of Articles 366, 22, as it stood prior to the amendment by the 26th amendment.. It says ruler of an Indian state means the prince, chief or any other who is recognized by the President as the ruler of the State.. What happened there was initially after the proposed amendment did not pass muster in Rajya Sabha..Presidential Order was issued.. and that you are being derecognized as the ruler.. leading to an issue that Presidential Order cannot override substantial provisions of the Constitution.... what happens here in 370 case is opposite.. Article 367 is sought to be amended in order to amend 370....SG: This has been done consistently and affirmed by your lordships.. 370 was the only article which permitted president to change any other article.. so 367 mechanism was issued in past...CJI: You are saying such other provisions mean Article 367... Article 370(1) refers to other provisions.. but can you use Article 367 and amend Article 367 and bring change in Article 370... This while using 370(1)(d)... Then are you not changing Article 370? Where as the purpose of 370(1)(d) is to amend other provisions of the constitution and so can you use this to amend article 370 itself.. This is the heart of the matter.. This needs clarity..SG: Recommendation is of the body... Concurrence is of the government and the government does not mean Governor... Justice Khanna: Government means Council of Ministers SG: If not Council of Ministers, then Governor.CJI: Simply put, when there was no legislative assembly existing, the explanation was amended so as to provide that Constituent Assembly will be treated as Legislative Assembly... Justice Sanjiv Khanna: So by amending 367, you are not amending 370 as such.. because procedure under 370 has to be followed to abrogate or nullify this .. Suppose 367 was amended in terms of 370(1)(d) with concurrence of State government, then Legislative Assembly made a recommendation to abrogate 370 and pass legislative muster, then other side would not have been here... or may be still some would be there.SG: There is no such provision in the Constitution or in the worldwide like Article 370 and in a federation like ours there cannot be such an Article. making 370(1) permanent will make an unconstitutional provision to remain in the Constitution.SG: if the proviso becomes otiose, then the main Article does not become otiose.. at all.. Justice Sanjiv Khanna: Constitution in a democracy will always have limitations.. both from executive and the judiciary...SG: There were hartals every two or three weeks, banks, schools were closed.. when State reorganisation takes place, there is a blue print as to how the Central government will work once the States are reorganised... like how the youth will be taken into the mainstream... etc.. CJI: Once you concede the power in relation to union for all the States.. how do you ensure that this power will not be used for other States?.SG: This is a one of its kind situation which will not arise again Justice Kaul: We have seen very difficult times in Punjab, North east.. not a one off instance Justice Gavai: One north eastern state is facing issues now, as we speak.Justice Kaul: How do we distinguish between Jammu and Kashmir with other border States.. What is the assurance that same might not happen there?.Justice Khanna: You cannot say that it is to be treated differently because it is a border State.. SG: See the consistent, repeated situation we are facing since decades.. Here one part of the territory is occupied by Pakistan.. PoK.. this is a problem faced by the nation since decades and these decisions are not taken as knee jerk decisions.. These are policy considerations...SG: Youth which used to be employed by terror groups, etc. or interests inimical to India are employed gainfully now.. It can be seen that these policy considerations which decided the reorganisation was correct or not. The blue print ensured what was done so that Jammu and Kashmir returns to normalcy..CJI: Does Parliament have the power to convert an existing Indian State into an Union territory and if it does, then what about Article 3? SG: Please see the Reorganisation Act... CJI: The Union Territory here is not permanent in nature? SG: No. no. milord.. the question was asked even on the floor of the house.CJI: How impermanent is the decision to make it into a UT and when will be the elections? SG: I will show it.Justice Kaul: Suppose you carve out a portion of Assam into a Union Territory and also make Assam into a UT.. ?SG: Too extreme an example..... but one State cannot be declared a UT under Article 3... but there needs to be separation....CJI: Creation of UTs post-independence.. look at Chandigarh, how it was carved out to become a UT to govern the two sister states as per Punjab Reorganization Act... So you make them as UT now, but at a later point of time when it stabilises, it is made into a State... Can the union not have a control over a stipulated period to bring stability... Whether it is State or UT... If all of us survive then nation survives.. Then should we not give that much leeway to Parliament that for some period a State is made into a UT and then after a period it becomes a State.... But we need a statement from the central government on this that if there is a time frame in view...? Restoration of democracy is a vital component of our nation. Please tell us what is the roadmap for this.SG: I will show that that is not of permanent nature and we want this to become a State again... I will submit.SG: I have taken instructions and the instructions are that the UT is not a permanent feature and I will make a positive statement day after tomorrow. Ladakh would remain a UT.. but here we are only on Jammu and Kashmir. .SG: AG and I will make the statement. In terms of local body district development council elections.. so far as Ladakh is concerned... it consists of two units, Leh and Kargil ... Leh elections are over.. for Kargil, the elections will be in September.SG: We have created two Union territories.... one UT has police powers with the Central government and rest all is what a State has... Justice Khanna: Representation of the State is the representation of the will of people and that was taken away....SG: It is a UT without a State Legislature but it has all the attributes of a State... Every entry apart from police is there and I do not even have to mention why police is out of the purview..CJI: Unlike State Legislature, in the case of a Union Territory, like Delhi for instance, Parliament can enact on any list.. SG: That is for 239AA CJI: That is what is happening here..SG: Yes, 239AA is incorporated here...Attorney General of India R Venkataramani makes submissions.AG: Puranlal Lakhanpal wanted to contest elections and now he can, after 61 years, in Jammu and Kashmir.. In a way, we all are Puranlal Lakhanpal.. That is the significance of what has been done now. Article 370 is nothing but the finality of integration of J&K into the union of India..AG: The argument that during President rule, you could not have taken irreversible decision without taking resort to Article 368 is not correct. If the understanding of 370 was to enable completing of the situation where complete national integration would be over.. then that purpose was over.. Is the President stopped from excluding taking stock of what has happened under 370(1)(D) ...? She is entitled to ask this question at any point of time.AG: This provision was meant to work during certain period and now the period has come to an end.. Justice Sanjiv Khanna: In this case,, is there any President proclamation exercising power under clause 3 to Article 370? AG: I will come back with the answer...CJI: If the Constituent Assembly recommends to the President that do not abrogate Article 370, then is it open to President to override the Constituent Assembly...? AG: Assembly cannot say that they want to retain 370... It is just an advice ... Constituent assembly does not have the power to ask it to retain it CJI: When the Constitution uses the word 'recommendation', it means positive decision. It does not mean only opinion... 370 uses variety of words like concurrence, consultation, etc.CJI: There has to be recommendation from the Constituent Assembly to the President for abrogating Article 370 and this recommendation has to be before the decision to abrogate is taken.AG: But it is just a recommendation.. CJI: So you are saying the Constituent Assembly can give a recommendation but the president can override the Constituent Assembly recommendation...? Are you saying, absence of recommendation is not a problem? And that it is only a sequitur...?.CJI: If the proviso to 370(3) cannot apply does it mean substantive power under 370 is denuded or lost? If not lost, then is it a unilateral power which can be exercised by the President.. but there was no Constituent Assembly.. So Article 367 was followed since due to absence of Constituent Assembly, there is no Legislative Assembly.. That is why you go to Parliament for a broader consensus.... but in this process, there is a dilution .. That is the role prescribed by 370(3)... But now, you say that role is mere recommendatory... But mere recommendation does not mean it can be overridden...SG: Only one question, your Lordships can consider over this holiday tomorrow - When Constituent Assembly was being dissolved.. suppose the members would say 'now in exercise of our powers under Article 370 (3), we recommend to the President, that the Constitution which we have framed will provide for a semi-kind of monarchy and now, therefore, you delete Article 370.' Would it not go against the very spirit with which 370 was incorporated? That it has to be temporary and you (K&K) are an integral part? .. so, in this case.. would the President be completely denuded and have to act as per the desire of the Constituent Assembly? It cannot be for the simple reason that the debates in the Constituent Assembly repeatedly say, this is temporary provision. .Sibal: There can't be negation principle read into the proviso. The principle of negation, whittling down the entire scheme of Article 370. You can't read it into the proviso. .CJI: One last word ... The wide chasm between absolute autonomy - as it existed on the 25th of January 1950 - and complete integration, as it was brought about in August 2019 - that chasm has been substantially bridged by what has been happening in between. So really, in the sense, it is not a complete migration from absolute autonomy to absolute integration. SG: It had become a shell. CJI: Whether you call it a shell or not, a substantial degree of integration had already taken place in the last - between 1950 and 2019, 69 years. Therefore, what was done in 2019, was it really a logical step forward to achieve that integration?.Attorney General informs he will take about half an hour more to conclude his submissions. The Court said it will hear senior counsel Dwivedi after the AG's submissions conclude. Bench rises.