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Fali Nariman calls dissenting verdicts safety valve, says it shows Supreme Court in robust health

Senior Advocate Fali S. Nariman has stressed on the importance of dissenting judgements, saying that they not only worked as safety valve, but also sent a message of assurance to the ever curious and anxious general public that the highest court of the country was in robust health and doing its allotted task well.

Speaking as Guest of Honour at the 28th Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial lecture, which was delivered by Supreme Court Judge Justice BV Nagarathna on the topic “Role of Judiciary in Empowerment of Indian Women” on Friday, the Senior Advocate expressed his views on the Supreme Court verdict over the abrogation of Article 370, which stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.

Nariman said after reading the very exhaustive verdict handed down by a Constitution Bench of five judges, his only regret has been that there was no dissent.

While acknowledging that a dissent would have made no difference to the outcome of the case challenging the Union government’s decision, Nariman said that a dissenting opinion would have helped the public better understand the case and the issues involved.

As per the Senior Advocate, the dissenting views would have helped the not-so-well informed general public to better understand and appreciate the contours of this unique very long and somewhat complicated case about India’s northern-most state.

On December 11, 2023, a five-judge Constitution Bench of the Apex Court upheld the President’s order (CO 273) of 2019 abrogating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant held that the concurrence of the state government was not required to apply the Constitution to the state, noting that the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had no internal sovereignty.

Responding to the assurance given by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the Central government would restore the statehood of J&K as soon as possible, the Apex Court refused to validate the reorganisation of J&K into a Union Territory.

The Bench, however, upheld the carving out of Ladakh as UT.

It further directed the Election Commission of India to hold elections of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly by September 30, 2024.

The Bench gave three judgements in the matter – one by CJI Chandrachud for himself and for Justices Gavai and Surya Kant.

The second was a concurring opinion authored by Justice SK Kaul, while Justice Sanjiv Khanna delivered the third nts.verdict, concurring with both the judgements.

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