5-judge Several petitions are now being heard by the Constitution Bench in response to the 2019 Presidential Order that abolished the special status of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two Union Territories.
Despite repeating that Jammu and Kashmir’s position as a union territory is only transitory, the Central government informed the Supreme Court on Thursday, August 31 that it would take “some time” to restore statehood.
After Article 370 was repealed in 2019, the state was divided into two union territories (UTs): Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
We are moving on with plans to fully establish J&K as a state. According to my directives, however, I cannot provide the precise timeline for full statehood at this time. Before the Constitution Bench hearing arguments against abrogation of Article 370, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta argued that the state’s unusual position as a Union Territory meant that it was subject to frequent and persistent disruptions over the course of decades.
Mehta also said that the Election Commission’s work updating the voter list is almost complete, meaning that elections might take place at any moment. The State Election Commission and the Election Commission of India, he stated, would make the final election decision.
It is up to the Election Commission of India and the Election Commission of the state to make the final decision, as the government is prepared.Voter registration list maintenance is ongoing and has not yet been finished. In about a month we will be done with it. Considering the circumstances, he remarked, “it will be up to the Election Commissions to make the decision.”
SG Mehta informed the Supreme Court that after the 2019 implementation of the panchayat system, three elections are due: for the Panchayats, the District Development Councils, and the Legislative Assembly. Leh’s hill development council elections under Ladakh UT are complete, he said; Kargil’s are scheduled for September.
He boasted that the region is always improving by presenting various statistics, including the fact that 1.88 million people travelled to J&K in the previous year and that the one million milestone has already been reached for the year 2023.
Mehta said that compared to 2018, terrorist-initiated incidents are down 45.2%, infiltration is down 90.2%, stone pelting is down 97.2%, and security personnel casualties are down 65.9%. This is the kind of thing that government agencies would think about… There were 1,767 incidents of stone pelting in 2018, but none at all in 2019, and 52 reports of organised bands protesting by separatist forces, but none at all in 2019, he claimed.
He reaffirmed Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s earlier assertion in Parliament that Jammu and Kashmir will once again become a state if the situation there normalised.
Abrogation of Article 370 is being challenged in court, and the Constitution Bench has made it clear that any development activity carried out by the Centre beyond August 2019 would be irrelevant to the outcome of the case.
The Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, on Tuesday directed the Attorney General and Solicitor General to seek guidance from the Central government on the timeline for restoring Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood. The government in Delhi has said that “Union Territory is not a permanent feature” and that it would make a favourable declaration for Jammu and Kashmir in court on August 31.
The highest court had emphasised throughout the hearing that the former state cannot be a “Union Territory in permanence,” and that restoring democracy was crucial. Ladakh, said to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, would remain a Union Territory.
The Centre had informed the Constitution Bench that local government elections were held in J&K for the first time in 2020, with around 34,000 persons being elected, and that there had been no “hartal (strikes), stone pelting, or curfew” in the valley after the abolition of Article 370.
A five-judge Constitution Bench is now considering a slew of petitions that aim to overturn a 2019 Presidential Order that split the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories by removing the special status provided to the region.
The Central Government has submitted an application with the Supreme Court defending its decision to weaken Article 370 and revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, arguing that this has resulted in unparalleled growth, security, and stability in the territory.
The Union Home Ministry reported that “organised stone pelting incidences connected with terrorism-separatist agenda, which were as high as 1,767 in 2018 has down to zero in 2023 till date,” indicating that the street violence that had been engineered and orchestrated by terrorists and secessionist networks was finally over.
After constitutional reforms, the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir has much improved, and the Central government has made it clear that it would tolerate no terrorism.
Kashmiri Pandits, who back the Central government’s decision to revoke the special status granted to the former state of J&K, have also filed intervention petitions in the ongoing case.