Press Trust of india

Political parties in J&K welcome SC’s decision to hear petitions on Article 370 on daily basis

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Srinagar: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution on a day-to-day basis.

The apex court on Tuesday said it will commence day-to-day hearing from August 2 on the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 that bestowed a special status on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah said he is confident that there is a strong case in favour of the restoration of Article 370.

“It took four years for the case to get to the Supreme Court. It shows how strong our case is. Had it been weak, believe me they (Centre) would have started the hearing within weeks. It took so long because the Constitution was blown to pieces on August 5, 2019,” the former chief minister told reporters after paying homage to his grandmother Begum Akbar Jahan, the wife of NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, in Srinagar.

Abdullah said the abrogation of Article 370 may be linked to tourism and G20 events, but the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was wrong.

“You may package it as you may wish. Link it to tourism or G20 as much as you like, but legally and constitutionally, whatever happened with Jammu and Kashmir was wrong,” he added.

The former Union minister also claimed that the government’s case is weak.

“The government did not even try to get it listed. There are ways…. If the government was interested, it could have requested the Supreme Court for an early hearing. Had its case been strong, it would have requested the chief justice for a hearing. It did not.

“Thankfully, the chief justice and other Supreme Court judges came here, probably saw the situation and after going back, it was listed. Better late than never,” Abdullah said.

He welcomed the decision of the top court to set aside the Centre’s affidavit in defence of abrogation of Article 370.

“I wholeheartedly welcome what the Supreme Court said today (Tuesday) with regard to the affidavit filed by GOI (in defence of its decision to abrogate Article 370). My initial reaction on social media yesterday was exactly like this: it is the legality and the constitutionality of what happened on 5th August 2019 that we have gone to the Supreme Court,” Abdullah later told reporters in Jammu.

He said the politics is not for the Supreme Court but for the politicians who have to fight the elections.

Asked about the delayed hearing of the case, the NC leader said he is not going to make any “irresponsible remarks” or say something that is not based on facts.

People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti said the top court’s decision not to rely on the Centre’s affidavit on the abrogation of Article 370 vindicates her stand that the BJP-led Union government’s move did not have a logical explanation.

She, however, said there are genuine apprehensions regarding why the apex court has taken up the petitions with such alacrity after remaining silent for four years.

“Hon’ble SC’s decision to not rely on GOI’s affidavit vindicates that it doesn’t have a logical explanation to justify illegal abrogation of Article 370.

“Having said that there are legitimate apprehensions about why SC has taken up the Article 370 with such alacrity after their visit to Kashmir. After remaining silent for four years the decision to hear the case on a daily basis does evoke misgivings. Hope the Constitution of this country by which the judiciary swears is not sacrificed at the altar of power to satisfy the collective conscience of people who know little about the matter,” the former chief minister wrote on Twitter.

J&K Peoples’ Conference President Sajad Gani Lone said that Article 370 case is one of the biggest challenges faced by the institution of the judiciary. He emphasized that the role of the apex court is not to pass judgment on whether the abrogation of Article 370 was beneficial or detrimental to J&K but the court’s duty lies in determining the legality of the abrogation.

Lone in a statement said, “Per se the affidavit filed by the Central government focuses on issues post abrogation. What will eventually be discussed in the court is the legal pathway to abrogation not the so called perceived political or law and order benefits post abrogation. Whether abrogation of Article 370 is good or bad for J and K is not what the Apex court has to decide. They have to decide whether it was good or bad in law.”

NC’s chief spokesperson Tanvir Sadiq said the development instills hope among the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is a welcome development that the CJI will hear the petitions on a daily basis from August 2. It instills a lot of hope in the minds and hearts of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Sadiq said.

He said the people of Jammu and Kashmir have been waiting for this day for the last four years.

“Now that the CJI has taken interest in this case, it definitely gives us hope. We would request that the petitions are heard thoroughly and a verdict is given because we feel our case is very strong,” Sadiq said.

To a query on the top court’s observation that the Centre’s fresh affidavit will have no bearing on the hearing, the NC leader said the affidavit should not matter much as it is more about the developmental aspect.

“The fact that the extra affidavit of the government had more about development and the fact that the court did not agree to it is also a welcome step, because you need to understand that in spite of Article 370, there was development here before 1989. In spite of Article 370, you had a record number of tourists coming to Jammu and Kashmir.

“A record number of one crore pilgrims visited Jammu and Kashmir when Omar Abdullah was the chief minister. So the affidavit should not matter much, because the CJI has said the matter should be decided on the basis of the Constitution,” Sadiq said.

Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader M Y Tarigami also welcomed the apex court’s decision.

“This is a positive intervention. We welcome it. Though it is late as it has taken four years, nevertheless, it has sent a positive message to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” he said.

“We expect that justice will be delivered,” the Left leader added.

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