New Delhi: A 5-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud began its proceedings on Wednesday to address a series of petitions challenging the 2019 Presidential Order. The order revoked the special status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir and divided it into two Union Territories.
The Constitution Bench comprises Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, and Surya Kant. They will hear the case consecutively from August 2, except for Mondays and Fridays.
The petitioners’ side has communicated to the Constitution Bench, via the court-appointed nodal counsel, that they anticipate approximately 60 hours of oral arguments.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subramanium, Rajeev Dhavan, Dushyant Dave, Shekhar Naphade, Dinesh Dwivedi, Zafar Shah, C.U. Singh, Prashanto Chandra Sen, Sanjay Parikh, Gopal Sankaranarayanan, Dr. Menaka Guruswamy, Nitya Ramakrishnan, P.V. Surendranath will advance arguments on behalf of the petitioners and other intervenors in the case.
On the other hand, Attorney General R. Venkataramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta primarily will defend the stand of the Union government.
The clutch of petitions was recently heard on July 11 to complete the necessary pre-hearing formalities since March 2, 2020, when another Constitution Bench ruled against the necessity of referring the matter to a seven-judge bench.
A large number of petitions have been filed by political parties, private individuals, lawyers, activists, etc., challenging the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which downgraded and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
In an affidavit filed recently before the top court, the Central government has defended the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir saying that its decision to dilute Article 370 has brought unprecedented development, progress, security, and stability in the region.
The Union Home Ministry said that the street violence, engineered and orchestrated by terrorists and secessionist networks has now become a thing of the past and and the “organised stone pelting incidences connected with terrorism-separatist agenda, which were as high as 1,767 in 2018 has come down to zero in 2023 till date”.
In the pending matter, intervention applications have also been filed by Kashmiri Pandits supporting Centre’s move stripping special status accorded to the erstwhile state of J&K.