Supreme Court Hears Challenge to Abrogation of Article 370 | Day 10

The Constitution Bench heard the Unions opening arguments in support of the abrogation of Article 370.


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Today, we bring you updates from Day 10 hearings in the challenge to the abrogation of Article 370 before the 5-judge constitution bench in the Supreme Court. On day 10, the Bench heard arguments in support of the abrogation, from the Attorney General and the Solicitor General of India, representing the Union and J&K governments.

Attorney General R. Venkataramani addressed the Bench for a little over 10 minutes to summarise the Union’s key arguments. Most notably, he argued that he had perused all the 113 presidential proclamations related to J&K and all of them indicated there was no deviation from the due process in question.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta took the court through a series of dates and historical documents to establish that J&K never really had a “special status” and did not retain any sovereignty.

Mehta argued that several other Princely states in India had their own instruments of accession, constitutions and merger agreements when India was becoming a Union. Many states, like J&K, that did not have a merger agreement were still considered to have been part of India. He said that the petitioners’ claim that J&K was the only state with its own constitution was “factually incorrect”. He said that around 62 other states had their own constitutions at the time and many others were in the process of creating one.

Like these other states, Mehta insisted, J&K’s sovereignty was transferred to India completely. Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession and ceded the state to India. What the state retained, he said, was not “sovereignty” but “autonomy” over certain aspects of internal governance. This autonomy also was not unique to J&K, Mehta. All states, even today, have autonomy under List II or the state list. Therefore, Mehta suggested that J&K was not “special” as claimed by the petitioners.

Over 9 days, petitioners had argued that the Indian Constitution must respect and work in harmony with the J&K’s Constitution. In an interesting twist to these arguments, Mehta suggested the Constitution of J&K was just an Act, a legislation, for the internal governance of the state, which had already become an integral part of the Union of India. So naturally, the J&K Constituent Assembly was no different from a Legislative Assembly. The Bench stopped him here, and sought further clarification on this line of argument. Mehta is expected to elaborate on it in the upcoming hearings.

The Solicitor General will resume arguments for the Union on Monday, 28 August, 2023. Thank you for watching SCO Daily, Stay tuned to SCObserver for more updates from the Supreme Court. Don’t forget to visit our website for detailed reports of the key arguments made against and in support of removing J&K’s special status.