The Supreme Court today said a five-member Constitution bench will hear the petitions that have been filed to challenge validity of the Modi government's decision of scrapping the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The Constitution bench will start hearing the matter in the first week of October, the Supreme Court said.
These petitions were heard by a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi.
Besides hearing the petitions challenging Article 370, the Supreme Court was also hearing a bunch of petitions that demand an end to restrictions on movement and communication imposed in the Kashmir valley. These restrictions were brought in two days before Union Home Minister Amit Shah moved a bill to scrap Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 and bifurcate it into two Union territories-Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir. The bill was moved and passed first in the Rajya Sabha on August 5.
Since the restrictions were imposed, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have been put under house arrest.
In response to the petitions seeking an end to restrictions in Kashmir, the bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer, asked the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file their responses within seven days.
The petition against the scrapping of Article 370 was filed by advocate ML Sharma. National Conference MPs Mohd Akbar Lone and Justice (rtd) Hasnain Masoodi have challenged the changes made in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir by the Centre. They have also been joined by former IAS officer Shah Faesal and former JNU student leader Shehla Rashid, among others.
Timeline of what has happened in Supreme Court on Article 370 and J&K:
August 6: Advocate ML Sharma files petition in Supreme Court to challenge Modi government's decision to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir's special status.
August 10: Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times moves the Supreme Court seeking a direction for the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to immediately relax all restrictions on freedom of movement of journalists and media personnel in Kashmir and some districts of Jammu.
Anuradha Bhasin argued that these directions will enable media personnel to practise their profession and exercise their right to report.
August 13: Supreme Court refuses to interfere with the restrictions imposed by the government in Jammu and Kashmir, including the communication clampdown. The Supreme Court said reasonable time should be given for bringing normalcy in the sensitive situation and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
August 16: The Supreme Court says it is refraining from examining legal challenges posed to the Centre's decision on Article 370 that changed the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir. The court said the petitions filed on this "serious issue" suffer from defects.
Hearing advocate ML Sharma's plea, the Supreme Court expressed its anguish that there have been six petitions on the issue and all were filed with the defects. It pulled up advocate ML Sharma, the first petitioner on the issue, saying his petition has "no meaning".
Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said he spent 30 minutes reading the petition but could not make out anything and also could not understand what the prayer was.
"What kind of petition is this? It could have been dismissed but there are five other pleas with the registry which are under defect," the bench also comprising Justices SA Bobde and SA Najeer said.
"You are not praying for setting aside the Presidential order. What is the prayer it is not clear. It can be dismissed on technical grounds. In a matter of this nature if this is the petition, there is no meaning," the bench said.
The apex court asked lawyers to cure defects in their six petitions on Article 370 and adjourned the hearing.
August 16: Hearing another plea on the Kashmir issue, the Supreme Court refuses to pass any direction on the plea sought to end the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir by the Centre after the abrogation of Article 370. This was after the centre told the Supreme Court that curbs on movement and communication are being lifted gradually.
"We would like to give little time. We have read in newspaper today that landline and broadband connections are being restored gradually. Therefore, we will take up the petition with other connected matters," the court said.
It was hearing the plea filed by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times.
August 18: More petitions filed in Supreme Court against abrogation of Article 370. A group of former defence officers and bureaucrats move the Supreme Court challenging the presidential orders and the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The plea was filed by former member of the Home Ministry's Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir (2010-11) professor Radha Kumar, former IAS officer of Jammu and Kashmir cadre Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Air Vice-Marshal (Retd) Kapil Kak, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar Mehta, former Punjab cadre IAS officer Amitabha Pande and ex-Kerala cadre IAS officer Gopal Pillai, who retired as Union home secretary in 2011.
Their petition seeks directions declaring Presidential orders of August 5 as "unconstitutional, void and inoperative".
August 23: CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury moves the Supreme Court with a petition for production of CPI(M) leader Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, who has been detained in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370.
The CPI(M) said the writ petition has been filed under Article 32 of the Constitution, a person has right to move to Supreme Court (and high courts also) for getting his fundamental rights protected.
August 23: In a related manner, the Delhi High Court says it will hear on September 3 former IAS officer Shah Faesal's plea alleging he was illegally detained at Delhi airport on August 14 and taken back to Srinagar where he has been kept under house arrest. The high court however declined to give an earlier date for hearing.
August 24: The Press Council of India moves the Supreme Court and supports the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government's decision to impose restrictions on communication in the state following the abrogation of Article 370.
PCI justified the communication blockade saying that due to the security concerns there can be reasonable restrictions on the media.
PCI's application seeks intervention in the petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times in which she had sought the removal of restrictions on communication which she said were coming in the way of journalists' right to exercise their profession.
August 28: Supreme Court says all matters related to Article 370 and developments in Jammu and Kashmir following abrogation of Article 370 will be heard by a Constitution bench from the first week of October.