The hearing of pleas challenging the amendment of Article 370, which granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is expected to commence in August, according to Justice BR Gavai’s disclosure during Teesta Setalvad’s bail plea hearing, organiser reported. Although the cases have been listed for July 11, the Supreme Court’s Constitution Bench is likely to begin the hearings in August.
Teesta Setalvad’s lawyer, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, as per organiser suggested that her request for bail should be heard in August. Justice BR Gavai responded, “It will be too late because we will begin hearing the challenge against Article 370.”
Kapil Sibal said, “I thought it was going to begin on July 11.” However, Justice Gavai, as per organiser clarified that the case is listed on July 11 for directions, and the actual hearings will start in August. He said, “That is only for directions. Tentatively, we will be starting in August.”
On July 11, the matters have been posted “for directions,” which means it is a date set for procedural formalities such as filing documents, setting the order of arguments, and allocating time.
Pertinent to mention, a Constitution Bench was established recently to hear cases related to challenges against the amendment of Article 370. The Constitution Bench consists of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice SK Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice BR Gavai, and Justice Surya Kant.
On August 5, 2019, the Indian government abrogated Article 370, removing Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. The government also enacted the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which divided the former state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Hearings on the amendment of Article 370 began before the Constitution Bench in December 2019, four months after the abrogation. One issue before the court was whether the matter should be referred to a larger bench, due to alleged differences of opinion by two coordinate benches of the court. However, on March 2, 2020, the Constitution Bench decided that there was no need for a larger bench. Justices NV Ramana and Subhash Reddy, who were part of the previous bench, have retired. Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjiv Khanna are now members of the Constitution Bench.
The Supreme Court has received several petitions challenging the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 by private individuals, lawyers, activists, politicians, and political parties.
It is worth noting that one of the petitioners, Shah Faesal, stated that the matter is now a “thing of the past.” He mentioned that he had already withdrawn his petition challenging the Presidential Order to remove Article 370. The court will also consider whether Faesal’s petition can be withdrawn.
“370, for many Kashmiris like me, is a thing of the past. Jhelum and Ganga have merged in the great Indian Ocean for good. There is no going back. There is only marching forward,” Shah Faesal said in a tweet.