Supreme Court judge raises referendum in Article 370 case

wilayattimes (India)

New Delhi: Supreme Court judge Surya Kant caused a stir in the courtroom on Wednesday when he mentioned “referendum” while seeking to know how the government of India could have ascertained will of the people of former state of J&K in the absence of an elected assembly.

Kant made the remark while hearing a host of petitions challenging the validity of the government actions stripping the state of its special status and bifurcating it into two union territories as part of a five-judge bench led by NV Ramana who will be the next chief justice of India.

“Who’s the competent authority? How is it to e done? Through a referendum? Through elected representatives? How?” Kant asked senior advocate Raju Ramachandran when the latter argued that the Centre could not have unilaterally changed the former state’s relationship with the Indian Union without taking into consideration the will of the people there.

Ramachandran, who is appearing for former bureaucrat Shah Faesal and activist Shela Rashid, said, “There are no elected representatives.” The state was under President’s Rule when its special status was scrapped, he said. “The people have been sidelined…their Constitution violated.”

Earlier the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday told that a temporary phase of President’s rule cannot be used to bring about an irreversible change in the nature of relation between Jammu & Kashmir and the Union.

A 5-judge constitution bench of the top court, headed by Justice N V Ramana, was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370. The bench also comprises Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.

Advocate Raju Ramachandaran, appearing for bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, Shehla Rashid and other petitioners, today put forth his arguments in the case.

“This route of a temporary phase of President’s rule which was imposed in the state from December 19, 2018 till October 31, 2019 cannot be used to bring about an irreversible change in the nature of relation between the State and the Union,” the senior lawyer said.

“It is completely against the Constitutional ethos,” he added.

The petitioners referred to the constitutional provision and said that only the Constituent Assembly, which represents the will of the people, is empowered to make recommendation to the President on any changes in the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.