Decision to cancel Kashmir’s autonomy is valid: Supreme Court of India

Afroza Hossain

Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court of India has upheld the central government’s decision to revoke the constitutional special status of the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud announced the verdict on Monday.

According to the report of the British news agency Reuters, the decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 has been declared valid by the Supreme Court of India. At the same time, the Supreme Court has ordered the state assembly elections to be held there by September 30 next year.

India and Pakistan emerged as two independent states in 1947 after being freed from British colonial rule. Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority region, has been at loggerheads with neighboring Pakistan for more than 75 years since independence.

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution regarding the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated to form two union territories named Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Later, more than a dozen petitions were filed in the Supreme Court of India challenging the government’s decision. After almost four and a half years, after hearing these applications on Monday, a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud unanimously declared the government’s decision valid. The other judges of the bench are Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjeev Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant.

The Supreme Court said that with the merger with India, the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir ceased to exist. Besides, the special autonomy granted to Jammu and Kashmir was temporary.

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said that Jammu and Kashmir’s Constituent Assembly was not intended to be a permanent body. It was formed only to frame the constitution. It was also not binding on the President to recommend the Constituent Assembly.

Explaining why Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special autonomy even after its merger with India, the Supreme Court said it was because Jammu and Kashmir did not have internal sovereignty.

The Supreme Court said, “All the states of the country have separate legislatures and executive powers. Examples of special provisions for different states are Articles 371-A to 371-J of the Constitution. It is an example of federalism… The internal sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir is no different from that of other states.”

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