Rajat Sharma


AKB30 A five-judge constitution bench of Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the abrogation of special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, saying there was no need for the “President to secure concurrence” of the state government before issuing notification to declare that Article 370(3) will now cease to operate. The Supreme Court said, the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir was never intended to be a permanent body, because Article 370 was a temporary provision. The bench consisting of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justices Sanjay Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant, held that Article 370(3) empowers the President to unilaterally issue a notification for abrogation of special status and that power remained in force even after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of J & K. The constitution bench clearly said that the erstwhile K&K state did not have “internal sovereignty different from other states” of the Indian Union, after it became part of India. The bench pronounced three separate but concurring judgments. It also upheld the creation of the Union Territory of Ladakh. It said that restoration of statehood for Jammu & Kashmir shall take place at the earliest and Election Commission should conduct assembly elections in J & K by September 30, 2024. Twenty-three petitions were filed seeking quashing of the President’s notification abrogating Article 370 and the hearing went on for 16 days continuously. Justice Sanjay Kaul suggested setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate all incidents of violence since the Eighties. Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the apex court judgment as “historic” and said, “it is a resounding declaration of hope, progress and unity for our sisters and brothers in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. The court, in its profound wisdom, has fortified the very essence of unity that we, as Indians, hold dear and cherish above all else….The verdict today is not just a legal judgment; it is a beacon of hope, a promise of a brighter future and a testament to our collective resolve to build a stronger, more united India.” Hailing the verdict while replying to a debate in Parliament, Home Minister Amit Shah said, “the verdict proves that Prime Minister Modi’s visionary decision was fully in accordance with the Constitution.” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath and other senior BJP leaders welcomed the verdict. The Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi and former minister P Chidabaram said, “Prima facie, we respectfully disagree with the judgement on the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated. We reiterate the Congress Working Committee resolution that Article 370 deserved to be honoured until it was amended strictly in according with the Constitution of India. We welcome the Supreme Court verdict calling for restoration of full statehood and its direction to hold assembly elections.” In Jammu, sweets were distributed by members of Dogra community, while there were celebrations in Leh, Ladakh over SC approval to its status as a union territory. There was peace in Kashmir Valley, but National Conference chief Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti alleged that they have been put under house arrest. This charge was denied by the Lt. Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha. Omar Abdullah said, his party would continue its fight for restoration of special status. Mehbooba Mufti said, what happened today with J&K can happen with the rest of India. Former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad expressed unhappiness over the verdict and said that the people of J&K will lose jobs and suffer losses. The former maharaja of J&K Dr Karan Singh said, “the people of J&K must accept the reality that their special status has ended forever, Article 370 is not going to be restored and the people of the state should be ready to fight political battle in the next elections.” AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi expressed disappointment and said, with removal of Article 370, the Dogra community living in Jammu will also lose their identity. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said, “everybody will have to accept the SC verdict, but BJP will have to answer many questions, like why J&K was deprived of statehood, why Ladakh was made a UT. If everything is hunky-dory, then why are the Chinese soldiers sitting inside Ladakh territory?” The point to ponder is that leaders like Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah are still supporting the argument that Article 370 was the main link for the Instrument of Accession of J&K with India. They are saying that J&K acceded to India only on this condition. This argument is weak. Instrument of Accession was signed in October, 1947. At that time, there was no Article 370, there was no mention whatsoever and nobody had then raised this point. In 1950 when the Constitution came into force after the Constituent Assembly adopted it, it was then promised that Article 370 was a temporary provision. How can it be conditional? The Supreme Court on Monday put its seal of approval on its abrogation. These leaders should find out whether Article 370 was providing advantages or disadvantages to J&K for the last 70 years. They should realize that because of Article 370, no big investments came, nor any big industries, or big private hospitals and schools were set up in Kashmir. During the last four years, opportunities for investments and industries in J&K have expanded. Tourism in Kashmir has got a big fillip, reputed hotel chains have expressed interest in setting up new hotels, and youths are getting job opportunities. The Supreme Court verdict is being welcomed because people in the Valley have now realized that there has been a fundamental shift for the better in the last four years. Leaders who were warning that “rivers of blood will flow” if Art. 370 is abrogated, are now realizing that there has been a huge decline in the negative outlook of youths in Kashmir. Pakistan is not getting youths to be recruited as terrorists in the Valley. Leaders who were warning that “there won’t be a single person left in the Valley to raise the tricolour” if Art. 370 is abrogated, are now watching how Independence Day and Republic Day events are being celebrated by people in the Valley hoisting tricolour flag on their homes. It is true that those supporting restoration of Art. 370 had pinned their hopes on the Supreme Court verdict. The apex court’s constitution bench listened to each of their arguments during the hearing. Now, this dispute over Article 370 must end and it should lay buried in the pages of history books. It is now time for all to ensure that J&K gets its statehood again, assembly elections are held soon, and an elected government should work for the welfare and prosperity of the people. Old leaders of Kashmir Valley must now learn to adjust themselves with the new age. They must realize that Bharat has changed.

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