SC debates Article 370’s applicability to J-K beyond 1957

Supreme Court of India

SRINAGAR — In a significant legal debate, the Supreme Court engaged in discussions over the continued applicability of Article 370 to Jammu and Kashmir beyond 1957.

The core argument revolved around whether the dissolution of the J&K Constituent Assembly in 1957 rendered the Indian Constitution frozen in its application to the region.

Senior Advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, representing the petitioners, argued that the abrogation of Article 370 amounted to a regressive measure. He questioned the longstanding notion of “one nation, one constitution,” highlighting that no explicit provision mandated this concept.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) responded by questioning whether the Indian government’s power to apply constitutional provisions would cease after the Constituent Assembly’s decision in 1957. Dwivedi noted that while the Indian government retained control over various matters through Union entries, he aimed to uncover the intent behind the debates surrounding the issue.

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However, the CJI disagreed, contending that freezing the Constitution’s application to J&K post-1957 would conflict with the region’s status as an integral part of India. He emphasized the need for provisions for the democratically elected government of J&K and highlighted the absence of constitutional clauses preventing the Indian Constitution’s application to the region.

The debate extended to discussions on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act. Senior Advocate CU Singh emphasized the Act’s importance to the region and raised concerns about potential implications on democracy and federalism if Article 370’s interpretation was upheld.

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Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh criticized the Parliament’s action, labeling it unconstitutional as it changed the explanation without the Constituent Assembly’s prior recommendation. He stressed the people’s sovereignty, enshrined in the J&K Constitution, and the paramountcy of a written constitution.

Senior Advocate PC Sen brought up the historical context of J&K’s choice between India and Pakistan, noting that the conscious decision to be a minority in India rather than a majority in Pakistan should be carefully considered.

The hearing concluded without a clear resolution, and discussions are set to continue in the next session on Wednesday.

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