A 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud is slated to hear on Wednesday (August 2) the batch of petitions challenging the 2019 Presidential Order taking away the special status accorded to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union Territories.
The Constitution Bench, also comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B.R. Gavai, and Surya Kant, would hear the matter consecutively starting from August 2, except for Mondays and Fridays.
CJI Chandrachud and Justice Khanna are the new members of the latest 5-judge bench as CJI N.V. Ramana and Justice Subhash Reddy, who were part of the earlier bench, had retired.
The clutch of petitions was recently heard on July 11 to complete the necessary pre-hearing formalities since March 2, 2020, when another Constitution Bench ruled against the necessity of referring the matter to a seven-judge bench.
In a fresh affidavit before the top court, the Central government has defended the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, saying that its decision to dilute Article 370 has brought unprecedented development, progress, security, and stability in the region.
It highlighted that in the past three years, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and other public institutions have been functioning without strikes or disturbances.
The Union Home Ministry said that the street violence, engineered and orchestrated by terrorists and secessionist networks has now become a thing of the past and and the “organised stone pelting incidences connected with terrorism-separatist agenda, which were as high as 1,767 in 2018 has come down to zero in 2023 till date”.
The Centre stressed that it has adopted a policy of zero tolerance against terrorism and after constitutional changes, the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved significantly.
The reply document said that since 2019, the entire region has witnessed an unprecedented era of peace, progress and prosperity and “life has returned to normalcy in the region after over three decades of turmoil”.
In the pending matter, intervention applications have also been filed by Kashmiri Pandits supporting Centre’s move stripping special status accorded to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.