Kashmir: SC fixes Nov 14 to hear pleas against Article 370 abrogation, puts embargo on fresh pleas

Heavy restrictions have been imposed in the Valleys since August 5.

Putting an embargo on fresh petitions challenging the government’s decision on Article 370, the Supreme Court on Tuesday fixed November 14 to commence hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the amendment to Article 370 revoking the special status for Jammu and Kashmir.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana allowed Centre four weeks time to file counter-affidavits to the cases, and one week time for the petitioner to file a rejoinder. The top court which is already seized of multiple petitions in the matter said it will not entertain any more petitions.

"We have to allow the Centre and the J&K administration to file counter-affidavit otherwise we can’t decide the matter," the bench also comprising justices S K Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant said.

On Monday, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi transferred all petitions pending before it to the Constitution Bench headed by Justice N V Ramana. The bench was constituted especially to hear matters related to Article 370 starting Tuesday.

These include pleas by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times newspaper; the habeas corpus petition by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury questioning detention of party colleague Yusuf Tarigami; and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking permission to travel to J&K.

The Presidential Order, according to the petitioners, used a temporary situation meant to hold the field until the return of the elected government, to accomplish a fundamental, permanent, and irreversible alteration of the status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir without the concurrence, consultation or recommendation of the people of that State, acting through their elected representatives .

This, they said, amounted to an overnight abrogation of the democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed to the people of the State upon its accession .

Petitions have also been filed by former IAS officer Shah Faesal, activist Shehla Rashid, and advocates Shakir Shabir, ML Sharma, Vineet Dhanda, and others.