The Supreme Court upholds abrogation of Article 370

  • An important decision of the Supreme Court
  • Ladakh will remain a Union Territory
  • The Court orders to hold assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) by 30th September 2024

Supreme Court Judges

New Delhi – The Supreme Court has upheld the Union Government’s decision, that was taken on 5th August 2019, to abrogate Article 370 applicable to J&K. A 5-member bench of the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the decision today. The Court has also directed the Union Government to hold assembly elections in J&K by 30th September 2024 and restore its statehood. Today’s judgment came 52 months after the decision was challenged through a petition. The Supreme Court had completed the hearing on 5th September 2023 but reserved the judgement. The Court finally gave its judgement on 11th December 2023. Three judgments were pronounced in this matter; one of these was delivered by Chief Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud, Justice Gavai and Justice Suryakant Sharma. Justice SK Kaul delivered a separate judgment, while Justice Sanjiv Khanna concurred with both the judgments.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on the imposition of President’s rule in J&K and its subsequent extension. The Court refused to give judgment in this regard as the petitioners did not challenge this decision directly. ‘Every decision taken by the Union Government on behalf of the State during the President’s rule cannot be challenged. It may lead to the administration of the State to a standstill’, the Court clarified.

Credits : ANI News

Highlights of the Supreme Court’s judgement

Article 370 was a temporary provision

Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was a temporary provision in the constitution created to tide over the war at the time. The same is also mentioned in the documents.

Reorganisation of J&K into union territory is valid

Reorganisation of J&K into 2 Union Territories is valid. The Union Government said that it will soon restore the statehood of J&K and the status of Union territory is temporary. Therefore, the Court does not find it necessary to decide if reorganisation of J&K into 2 Union Territories was right or wrong !

Concurrence of the State legislature not required to impose the President’s Rule

The recommendation of the State legislature was unnecessary as a precondition for the decision to impose President’s rule. This right of the President remained intact even after the dissolution of the J&K legislative Assembly. J&K’s Constituent Assembly was a temporary body. The recommendation of the Constituent Assembly was not binding on the President.

The Constitution was not implemented in J&K all of a sudden

History has shown that a process to gradually integrate the Constitution in J&K was ongoing. The Constitution has not come into effect in J&K suddenly after 70 years. It was a gradual process. Hence, we clarify that all the principles and clauses of the Constitution can be applied to J&K.

J&K did not have internal sovereignty since beginning

When J&K was included in the Indian Union, the State had no internal sovereignty. In November 1949, Yuvraj Karan Singh, heir to the throne of J&K, had issued a proclamation that reflected the ‘full and final surrender of (J&K’s) sovereignty to India’. Also, there is no mention of sovereignty of J&K in the constitutional system. Even in the Constitution of J&K, it is not mentioned. J&K does not have an internal sovereignty that is different from any other Indian State.

Ladakh will remain a Union Territory

J&K was divided and Ladakh was made a separate Union Territory. This decision was upheld by the Court. ‘Article 3 allows a portion of the State to be converted into a Union Territory. Therefore, the decision to make Ladakh a separate Union Territory is valid’, the Court said.

Justice Kaul recommends to constitute a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’

Justice SK Kaul

Justice Kaul of the 5-member bench recommended that a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ be constituted to improve the situation in J&K. He said, “It is important for reconciliation to heal the wounds suffered by the citizens of J&K over the past several decades”.

Highlights of the judgement of Justice Kaul –

1. If there is to be a reformation of J&K, it is necessary to heal the wounds in the minds of the people there. ‘Inter-generational trauma’ is felt by the people there. The first step towards healing the wounds is the acknowledgment of the acts of violations done by the State and non-State actors. Accepting the truth can pave the way for a reconciliation process.

2. An impartial ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ should be constituted. The human rights violations committed in J&K at least since the 1980s by the State or non-State actors should be investigated through this commission. A report should be submitted to recommend measures of reconciliation.

3. This commission should be formed before the memories of these wounds fade. The exercise must be time-bound. There is an entire generation of youth that has grown up with a feeling of distrust and it is to them that we owe the greatest day of liberation.

4. The Union Government should decide how to establish the commission and its structure etc. considering the sensitivity of the issues involved. The Commission must not turn into a criminal court and must be offering a platform for dialogue.

Reactions to the Supreme Court judgement

Decision of the Supreme Court is historic – Prime Minister Modi

The Supreme Court’s decision to abrogate Article 370 is historic. This is not just a legal judgement, but a beacon of hope, a promise of a brighter future and a testament to our collective resolve to build a stronger, more united India. I want to assure the resilient people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh that our commitment to fulfill your dreams remains unwavering.

I am very disappointed by the Supreme Court verdict – Ghulam Nabi Azad

I was very disappointed to hear the verdict. I have been saying since the beginning that the Parliament and the Supreme Court only can decide on it. It is clear that if the Government itself has abrogated Article 370, they won’t take it back. We expected the Supreme Court to take a favourable decision. The people of J&K are not happy with this decision.

Our struggle will continue – Omar Abdullah

Disappointed but not disheartened. The struggle will continue. It took the BJP decades to reach here. We are also prepared for the long haul.