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Article 370: Centre says abrogation helped in ending militancy, separatism; Supreme Court begs to differ

The Supreme Court has rejected the Central government’s arguments that it abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories to end the problem of militancy and separatism faced by the erstwhile state.

On the 12th day of hearing on Tuesday, the Constitution Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Surya Kant heard the arguments by the Union of India defending its August 5, 2019 decision to abrogate Article 370, stripping J&K of its special status.

The Apex Court observed that various parts of the country had faced the problems of militancy and separatism, such as north-eastern States and even Punjab.

Referring to the recent ethnic clashes in Manipur, the Constitution Bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, that he cannot say Jammu and Kashmir would be treated differently just because it was a border state.

The SG replied that J&K had faced the consistent and repeated situation over the decades. One part of its territory was occupied by Pakistan, known as PoK. 

Pointing out that the nation has faced this problem for decades, the SG said this was a knee-jerk decision, but a policy matter, which was taken after keeping all factors in mind.

The Central government further submitted that Jammu and Kashmir has been granted the status of a Union Territory only for the time being, adding that its statehood would be restored at the right time. However, Ladakh would remain a Union Territory, it noted.

The Constitution Bench said that even if the role of the J&K Constituent Assembly with regard to the status of Article 370 was interpreted as a recommendatory one, it did not mean that the Assembly could be overridden by the President of India.

Attorney General R. Venkataramani, also appearing for the Central government, said that the abrogation of Article 370 enabled different people to contest elections in Jammu and Kashmir. He added that the move marked the finality of the region’s integration into the Union of India.

(Case title: In Re: Article 370 of the Constitution)

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