Constitution Bench to hear pleas against scrapping Article 370

Centre gets SC notice over pleas against scrapping Article 370
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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to examine the legal challenge against the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench.

The apex court issued notices to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration on a batch of pleas challenging the Presidential order by which Article 370 was abrogated.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi was not in agreement with the Centre that there was no need for issuance of notice in the matter as Attorney General K K Venugopal and Solicitor General were marking their presence in the court.

"We will refer the matter to a five-judge Constitution bench", the bench also comprising justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer said while not accepting the arguments that the issuance of notice will have a "cross-border repercussion".

The Attorney General said whatever is being said by this court is sent before the United Nations.

As the counsel appearing for both sides were involved in arguments and counter-arguments, the bench said, "We know what to do, we have passed the order, we are not going to change".

On August 5, the government abrogated the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the state, and bifurcated it into two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The SC also sought responses from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea seeking removal of restrictions imposed on journalists after Article 370 was scrapped.

A bench issued notice on a plea filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, who sought directions for restoration of all modes of communication, including mobile Internet and landline services, throughout the state in order to provide an enabling environment for media to practise its profession.

While the petition against the scrapping of Article 370 was filed by advocate M L Sharma, National Conference MPs Mohd Akbar Lone and Justice (rtd) Hasnain Masoodi had challenged the changes made in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir by the Centre.

They were joined by former IAS officer Shah Faesal and former JNU student leader Shehla Rashid and several others including eminent persons like Radha Kumar.

(With inputs from PTI)

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