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SC Verdict on Article 370 Today: Key Arguments and Centre’s Defense Recap

The much-anticipated judgment on the contentious matter of Article 370 by the Supreme Court is set to be delivered today, marking a significant development nearly four and a half years after the Indian government’s revocation of Article 370 and the subsequent division of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.

A five-judge constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, reserved its judgment in September after a prolonged 16-day hearing involving prominent legal experts, including Rajeev Dhawan, Kapil Sibal, Gopal Subramanium, Chander Uday Singh, and Dushyant Dave, who opposed the abrogation of Article 370. On the other hand, the Centre, represented by Attorney General R. Venkatramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, strongly defended the move.

During the hearings, the Bench outlined critical issues for consideration, questioning whether Article 370 had become a permanent feature in the Constitution after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of J&K in 1957. They probed into the manner of abrogation if it wasn’t permanent.

The arguments put forth by both sides were substantial, shaping the discourse within the court:

  1. Nature of Article 370’s Permanence:Petitioners’ Stand: Lawyers unanimously argued that after the dissolution of J&K’s Constituent Assembly, Article 370 had acquired permanence, suggesting that Parliament had no authority to revoke it.Centre’s Defense: The government asserted that Article 370 was always meant to be temporary and, after the Constituent Assembly’s dissolution, Parliament held full authority to repeal it.
  2. Role of Indian Parliament vis-a-vis J&K’s Assembly:Petitioners’ Argument: The petitioners rejected the notion that Indian Parliament could replace J&K’s Constituent Assembly, highlighting that the courts had previously ruled against such an interchangeability.Centre’s Stand: It argued that post the J&K Assembly’s dissolution, its powers transferred to the Legislative Assembly and eventually to the Indian Parliament during President’s Rule.
  3. Legality of J&K’s Bifurcation into Union Territories:Petitioners’ View: Lawyers contended the bifurcation was illegal, violating federalism principles, emphasizing that Parliament lacked the authority to downgrade a State’s status to a Union Territory without consent from the State legislature.Centre’s Defense: It maintained that the bifurcation was temporary, planned until normalcy returns, and reiterated intentions to restore J&K’s statehood.

The verdict today holds immense significance and could potentially shape the future constitutional landscape concerning Jammu and Kashmir.

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