Article 370 | Day 1: Special Bench Reviews Petitions Filed

Challenge to the Abrogation of Article 370

Judges: Ranjan Gogoi CJI, S.A. Bobde CJI, Abdul Nazeer J

Day 1 Hearing: 16 August 2019

Today, Chief Justice Gogoi bemoaned the poor state of the petitions challenging the dilution of Article 370. In total, six petitions suffer from defects. The special bench comprising Gogoi CJI, Justice SA Bobde and Justice Abdul Nazeer asked the parties to cure the defects.

Chief Justice Gogoi was especially taken aback by the poor quality of ML Sharma’s petition: ‘Why did you file a defective petition in a matter of this importance?’ The Chief Justice detailed how he couldn’t understand the petition despite dedicating thirty minutes to it.

The Bench clarified that it did not want to dismiss ML Sharma’s petition, as this may adversely affect the other petitions.

ML Sharma apologised, stating that he had suffered from an injury, which caused him to draft poor a petition. He sought more time to file an amended petition.

At this point, petitioner Shakir Shabir, a Kashmiri advocate, requested the court to hear his petition. Chief Justice Gogoi stated that his petition had not been registered yet.

The Bench expressed dismay at the fact that in addition to Sharma’s petition, five others were suffering from defects. The Registrar had only been able to correct two of them. The Bench directed the parties to cure all defects. With this the hearing concluded.

The Special Bench also heard the separate petition by Kashmir Times editor, Anuradha Bhasin. The petition is against the curfew and halting of services in Jammu and Kashmir.

Chief Justice Gogoi observed that the media was reporting that broadband and landlines would be restored today. He stated that he would like to give it some time.

Bhasin’s counsel submitted that the free flow of information had halted and requested that press cards be respected. He said the press was unable to perform its duty as the ‘fourth estate of democracy’.

Attorney General KK Venugopal stated that all newspapers were being allowed to publish. He stressed that the situation was improving on a daily basis, gradually.

The matter was adjourned.

A similar petition filed by Tehseen Poonawalla had been heard on 13 August. In this matter, the Attorney General assured the bench led by Arun Mishra that the Union government was monitoring the situation on the ground on a daily basis. He stressed the government sought to return things to normalcy. This matter was adjourned for two weeks.

Note: Anuradha Bhasin’s petition was heard separately after this hearing.