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'There Is No Point In Filing One Lakh Petitions' : SC Not Inclined To Entertain More Petitions On Art 370

Avantika Mehta
1 Oct 2019 9:58 AM GMT
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would not entertain any further petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the amendment to Article 370 revoking the special status for Jammu and Kashmir.

"There is no point in filing one lakh petitions," said the Constitutional bench headed by Justice N V Ramana which allowed the Centre four weeks to file its counter-affidavits. Post that, one week was given to the petitioners to file their rejoinder.

Allowing the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration four weeks to file its counter-affidavits, and one week for petitioners to file their rejoinders. The top court fixed November 14 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

While petitioners pointed out that it had been 58 days since the August 5 Presidential Order scrapping J & K's special status and placing the state on lockdown, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested time. He said there were 10 petitions and "for each one response has to be filed."

"We have to allow the Centre and the J&K administration to file counter-affidavit otherwise we can't decide the matter," said the five-judge bench.

The Constitution Bench, which also comprised Justices S K Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, was clear that it would direct Centre to produce every relevant document pertaining to its decision to scrap Article 370.

Observing that there was a batch of petitions filed before it, all of which were filed on similar issues, the court said parties should refrain from taking the writ petition route and file intervention. The bench further clarified that it would entertain petitions dealing with other issues related to Article 370.

On Monday, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi transferred all petitions pending before it to the Constitution Bench headed by Justice N V Ramana. The bench was constituted especially to hear matters related to Article 370 starting Tuesday.

The petitioners in the matter are challenging the August 5 Presidential Order, which stated that all the provisions of the Indian Constitution applied to Jammu and Kashmir. According to the petition, the Centre used "a temporary situation meant to hold the field until the return of the elected government, to accomplish a fundamental, permanent, and irreversible alteration of the status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir without the concurrence, consultation or recommendation of the people of that State, acting through their elected representatives".

The petitioners also challenge the August 6 Presidential Order, which amended Article 370 to abrogate the special status of J&K. The J&K Reorganization Act, which bifurcated the state and downgraded it into two Union Territories, is also challenged in some of the petitions.

This, they said, amounted to an "overnight abrogation of the democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed to the people of the State… upon its accession".

Petitions have also been filed by former IAS officer Shah Faesal, activist Shehla Rashid, and advocates Shakir Shabir, ML Sharma, Vineet Dhanda, and others.

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