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The Supreme Court will start hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu & Kashmir from November 14.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice NV Ramana allowed the Centre and the Jammu & Kashmir administration to file counter-affidavits on petitions challenging scrapping of Article 370, agencies reported. The Supreme Court refused the plea of petitioners that not more than two weeks be given to the Centre and Jammu & Kashmir administration for filing counter-affidavits. The top court also put an embargo on filing of any fresh writ petition challenging the constitutional validity on abrogation of Article 370.

The bench said one week time would be for the petitioners to file their replies to the
counter-affidavit that would be filed by the Centre and Jammu& Kashmir administration within four weeks.

“We have to allow the Centre and the J&K administration to file counter-affidavit otherwise we can’t decide the matter,” the bench also comprising justices SK Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant said.

Among the first petitioners in the case was advocate M L Sharma  who filed a petition in the apex court on August 6 challenging the presidential order. Later others joined in including the National Conference (NC), the Sajjad Lone-led J&K Peoples Conference and CPI (M) leader Mohd Yousuf Tarigami have filed pleas in this regard in the top court. Other pleas include the one filed by a group of former defence officers and bureaucrats. They have also sought directions declaring the presidential orders of August 5 “unconstitutional, void and inoperative”.

—India Legal Bureau

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