The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the central government’s 5 August 2019 decision to abrogate Article 370, which provided a special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The court also directed that the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir be restored “at earliest” and elections to the legislative assembly be held by 30 September 2024.
“Restoration of the statehood shall take place at earliest and as soon as possible,” the top court said.
The verdict came in a batch of petitions challenging the government’s move to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union territories—Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, in its three concurring judgments, dealt with the question of whether the provisions of Article 370 were temporary or they acquired a permanent status in the Constitution after the J&K Constituent Assembly ceased to exist in 1957.
The Supreme Court ruled that Article 370 of the Constitution was a “temporary provision” which had served its purpose.
“We hold that Article 370 is a temporary provision. It was introduced to serve transitional purposes, to provide for an interim arrangement until the Constituent Assembly of the state was formed and could take a decision on the legislative competence of the Union on matters other than the ones stipulated in the instrument of accession and to ratify the Constitution,” the apex court said.
“Second, it was for a temporary purpose, an interim arrangement, in view of the special circumstances because of the war conditions in the state,” the court added.
The top court opined that simply because the Constituent Assembly ceased to exist, it did not mean Article 370 would continue permanently.
“Article 370(3) was introduced for constitutional integration and not for constitutional disintegration. Holding that 370(3) cannot be used after constituent assembly was dissolved cannot be accepted,” the court added.
“The President was empowered to issue the order to abrogate Article 370,” the Supreme Court said in its judgment.
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