Supreme Court has no judge from Jammu & Kashmir, will hear seven petitions which will decide the fate of the State/ UT
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Supreme Court has no judge from Jammu & Kashmir, will hear seven petitions which will decide the fate of the State/ UT

Murali Krishnan

On August 5, the Union government by way of an amendment to Article 367 effectively rendered redundant Article 370 which had conferred special status on the erstwhile State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Subsequently, the Parliament passed the Jammu & Kashmir reorganisation Act which split the States into two Union Territories.

These actions were taken without any dialogue with the representatives of the State, its leaders or people.

Now the validity of these actions will be tested in the court of law.

At least 6 petitions are pending before the Supreme Court challenging various aspects of the actions of the Union government on Jammu and Kashmir.

While some petitions challenge the Presidential orders bringing about the Constitutional amendments and the Reorganisation Act, certain others have challenged the curfew and restrictions on communication and movement imposed in Kashmir by the Centre.

National Conference MPs Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi, advocate Shakir Sahbir and advocate ML Sharma have challenged the validity of the Presidential Orders. Tehseen Poonawalla has challenged the curfew imposed in Kashmir. Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin has challenged the restrictions on telecommunication, internet and freedom of movement.

However, what is noteworthy is that the Supreme Court currently has no judge from Jammu & Kashmir.

The last judge from the State to have served in Supreme Court was Justice TS Thakur. He had retired as Chief Justice of India in January 2017.

In the history of the Supreme Court, there have been only five judges in Supreme Court whose parent High Court was Jammu & Kashmir.

The five judges were Justices RP Sethi, S Murtaza Fazal Ali, Jaswant Singh, AS Anand and TS Thakur.

Sitting Supreme Court judge, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul is ethnically a Kashmiri though his parent High Court is Delhi High Court.

Likewise, retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Markandey Katju is also a Kashmiri though his parent High Court was Allahabad High Court.

Aside from the fact that none of the sitting judges of the Supreme Court have Jammu & Kashmir High Court as their parent High Court, none of them have ever served in that High Court. So, the Supreme Court does not even have a “pass-through” judge from J&K.

While representation from each State in Supreme Court is not a mandate, many a time, the Collegium has taken into consideration the same while elevating judges to the Supreme Court.

It is also learnt that Advocate Asim Sarode, a practicing lawyer and Ashoka Fellow for the Innovators of Public (Washington) has written to the Chief Justice of India and other Supreme Court judges to elevate a judge from Jammu & Kashmir High Court to the Supreme Court and involve the judge in the hearing of the petitions pertaining to Article 370.

Meanwhile, a Special Bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer will hear two petitions on Jammu & Kashmir and Article 370 today.

One is a petition by ML Sharma challenging the Presidential order of August 5 by which Article 367 was amended thereby making Article 370 redundant.

The second is a petition by Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin seeking lifting of restrictions on telecommunication services and movement in Jammu and Kashmir.

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