India’s Supreme Court brushes aside govt objection, will hear challenge to changes in J&K

indica News Bureau-


A five-judge bench of India’s Supreme Court will hear challenges to the central government’s move to revoke the special status of the troubled state of Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and its division into two Union territories — Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

A three-judge bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi rejected the government’s urging not to take up the matter as it could have ‘cross-border repercussions’ and issued notice on a bunch of petitions challenging the move which was passed by the country’s Parliament on August 5.

The government’s lawyers also claimed that statements made in the course of the hearing in the country’s highest court would be sent to the United Nations in a bid to embarrass India. The court, however, did not agree. The matter will be heard by a Constitution bench of five judges in the first week of October. The partition of the state is to take effect on October 31, 2019.

Jammu & Kashmir, in particular, the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley, continues to be cut off from the rest of the country since the beginning of the month. Mobile and internet services remain suspended. Fixed-phone services were only restored this week.

Most parts of the valley remain under a ‘lockdown’. Top political and separatist leaders in the state continue to be under arrest while opposition leaders from other parts of the country have been prevented from entering Jammu & Kashmir.

The tough measures are to prevent anti-national elements and Pakistan-based terrorist groups from creating trouble in the region which is also claimed by Pakistan, the government says. Critics say it is to prevent protests by citizens upset by the loss of status and division of the state.

The court also allowed opposition leader Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India, Marxist, to visit Srinagar in an attempt to contact his party’s legislator Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami and check on his health. Yechury was earlier prevented from visiting Kashmir. He claims the party has not been able to reach the legislator since the lockdown was imposed.

The court also issued notice on a petition by a journalist, Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of the Kashmir Times newspaper, challenging the ‘communication blackout’ in the state.

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