The constitutional validity of the government’s move to scrap special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 earlier this month will be reviewed by the Supreme Court in October, the top court said today. The top court has also sought a response from the centre as it heard a batch of petitions against the government’s decision. The Supreme Court has referred all the petitions to a five-judge Constitution bench. While the National Conference, one of key parties in Jammu and Kashmir, and others termed the sweeping government action as illegal and unconstitutional, the editor of a newspaper has asked that the curbs on media be lifted.
Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:
During today’s hearing, Left leader Sitaram Yechury and a Kashmiri student at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University who wants to meet his parents were allowed by the Supreme Court to visit Jammu and Kashmir.
“We will refer the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench”, the Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, said while not accepting the arguments that the notice to the centre will have a “cross-border repercussion”.
The government’s top lawyer said whatever is being said by the court is sent before the United Nations. As the lawyers appearing for both sides were involved in arguments and counter-arguments, the bench, also comprising justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer , said, “We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change”.
The centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration were asked by the Supreme Court to respond in seven days after a petition sought directions for restoration of all modes of communication so that the media can function freely in the region.
Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin has sought directions for the immediate restoration of communication lines. She also pushed for the centre to relax all restrictions on the movement of mediapersons in Kashmir and some districts of Jammu.
The newspaper’s editor had claimed that she has not been able to publish the local edition of Kashmir Times because of the overarching restrictions on communication services as well as the blockade on media activities.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under strict restrictions since the government announced its decision to end its special status and split it into two union territories.
To avoid any backlash, phone and internet connectivity were snapped, more than 50,000 additional troops were stationed and prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were issued.
Almost 400 political leaders of the Kashmir Valley are under detention. top mainstream political leaders remain under arrest. Two former Chief Ministers – Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah – are among those who are under arrest. It is not clear when they will be released.
The government has come under criticism by the opposition for its handling of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. A group of opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, was turned away from the airport on Saturday.