Article 370 Day 1 | 5-Judge Bench Adjourns Matter

Challenge to the Abrogation of Article 370

Day 1 Constitution Bench: 1 October 2019

In a brief hearing today, the Constitution Bench led by Justice NV Ramana adjourned the hearing on the petitions till November 14. The order for adjournment came in light of the requests made by the respondents, Union of India and State of Jammu & Kashmir, that they have not received copies of all the petitions and would require more time to file their responses. In this regard, the court directed the petitioners to serve copies of the petitions to the respondents at the earliest. Thereafter, the Bench directed the respondents to file their counter-affidavits (responses) to the petitions within four weeks’ time. The petitioners were ordered to file their rejoinders (reply to respondents’ response) within one week of the respondents filing their counter-affidavits.

The Bench’s directions though were met with resistance by the counsels for some of the petitioners. Specifically, Senior Advocates Raju Ramachandran and Gopal Sankaranarayanan pointed out the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 would come into effect on 31 October 2019 and hearing the petitions on a date subsequent to it would make the petitions infructuous. Petitioners therefore prayed for an order to maintain status quo (leave things as they are), such that the Act does not come into effect till the petitions are disposed off. Justice Gavai though pointed out that the court could always reverse the effects of the Act at a future point in time. Given this, he pointed out that the Bench was not inclined to order status quo.

Other than the substantive objection to the adjournment, petitioners also pointed out that the court in its order dated August 28 2019 had already directed the parties to exchange the pleadings in the matter. Thus, granting any more time was uncalled for, submitted the petitioners. The Court, though, was not sympathetic to the submission and observed that since multiple petitions have been filed in the matter, the copies of some of which have not yet been served on the respondents, more time will have to be granted to the respondents to file their responses.

The proceedings for the day ended with the Bench directing the Registry to not entertain any further petitions in relation to the abrogation of Article 370 and matters related to it.

(Court reporting by Siddhartha Iyer)