4 Sep 2023 9:24 AM GMT
The Supreme Court on Monday asked National Conference leader and Member of Parliament Mohammad Akbar Lone, who is the lead petitioner in the batch of petitions challenging the repeal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, to file an affidavit affirming that he unconditionally accepted that J&K was an integral part of India and that he owed allegiance to the Constitution of...
The Supreme Court on Monday asked National Conference leader and Member of Parliament Mohammad Akbar Lone, who is the lead petitioner in the batch of petitions challenging the repeal of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, to file an affidavit affirming that he unconditionally accepted that J&K was an integral part of India and that he owed allegiance to the Constitution of India.
Today morning, a Kashmiri Pandits' organizaiton named "Roots in Kashmir" had submitted before the Constitution Bench that Lone had raised slogans supporting Pakistan in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly. Expressing serious concerns at Lone's statements, Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta had demanded that the Court should ask him to state on affidavit if he accepted India's total sovereignty and denounced terrorist and separatist acts in J&K. Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud had then said that the response of Lone would be sought during the rejoinder submissions.
When the bench assembled afternoon for the rejoinder submissions, the issue was put to Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, who represented Lone.
"They say that your first petitioner (Mohammad Akbar Lone) has said something which is not in sync...", Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul told Sibal.
"I'm not concerned with that. If he has said it, in what circumstances, is it recorded, you ask him for an affidavit. I'm not standing for him or what he said, if he said it", Sibal replied.
"Mr Sibal, do we take it that Mr Lone unconditionally accepts the sovereignty of India and that J&K is an integral part of India?", asked CJI DY Chandrachud.
"He is a member of parliament today. He has sworn to the constitution of India. He is a citizen of India. How can he say otherwise? And if anyone has said it, at my level, I deprecate it", Sibal replied.
"It is one thing for Mr Sibal to deprecate it. A litigant before your lordships has said...", Solicitor General intervened.
"Ask him to file an affidavit, I have nothing to do with it", replied Sibal.
"He is your client", came the reply of SG. "I'm not to answer allegations on him", Sibal retorted.
CJI then stated, "Mr Sibal, when he invokes the jurisdiction of our court under Article 32 of the Constitution, he necessarily abides by the Constitution...we want to have it from him that he unconditionally accepts that J&K is an integral part of India and that he abides by and owes allegiance to Constitution of India".
"When you argue, you accept the sovereignty of people of India. You accept that J&K is an integral part. When your client says something outside this court... probably then he is also accepting there was an issue to be dealt with", Justice Sanjiv Khanna added.
Sibal also said that the incidents happened in the Assembly in 2018 and that BJP speaker had asked Lone to chant certain slogans as well. "He was asked to say something which people ask other people to say on the streets of this country. Why do we need to go into this?", Sibal asked.
"We proceed on the basis that he is willing to file an affidavit before our court that he owes allegiance like any other citizen of India and that J&K is an integral part of India", CJI said.
"Let him say that he doesn't support terrorism and secessionism. No citizen can have any objection in filing that", SG added.
"There is also another petitioner- Justice Masoodi, let me argue for him. You want to take any action against him, do it but please don't derail pure legal submission", Sibal stated.
"We will hear you for Mr Lone as well. There's no difficulty. He has come to our court, we're duty bound to hear his submissions. All that we want to say here is that everyone we have here, because we've had people from across the political spectrum in J&K, it's welcome", CJI. "Tomorrow, just ask him to file an affidavit", CJI added.
Attorney General for India R Venkataramani then said that a person seeking to enforce his fundamental rights should have faith in the Constitution.
"Everyone has fundamental rights in this country including those who on the streets you vilify", Sibal replied.
"They're also wrong", SG said.
"Then you should apologise for them. Let me argue the case now", Sibal said. He pointed out that the petitioners had started their case by stating that J&K was an integral part of India.
The rejoinder arguments are underway. Live updates can be followed here.