TAG: GS 2: POLITY
THE CONTEXT: The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the President’s authority to abrogate Article 370 in August 2019, leading to the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories, thereby nullifying its special privileges.
- Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud led the five-judge Bench that validated the President’s power to unilaterally issue a notification to nullify Article 370 if “special circumstances warrant a special solution.”
- The court emphasized that it could not contest the President’s decision regarding the cessation of the special circumstances that initially led to the establishment of Article 370.
Historical Integration of Jammu and Kashmir
- The court acknowledged the 70-year-long collaborative effort between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir for the integration process.
- The aim was to align the rights and obligations outlined in the Indian Constitution with those of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, making them applicable in the entirety.
Redundancy of Jammu and Kashmir Constitution
- The Supreme Court declared the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution “redundant” and “inoperative,” emphasizing that the Indian Constitution stands as a comprehensive code for constitutional governance.
Restoration of Statehood and Elections
- The Centre assured the restoration of Statehood to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest.
- The Election Commission of India was directed to conduct Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections by September 30, 2024.
Validity of Reorganization and President’s Rule
- The court did not find it necessary to examine the legality of reorganizing Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories.
- It upheld the creation of the Union Territory of Ladakh from the state.
- The timing of the abrogation following the dissolution of the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislative Assembly and the subsequent imposition of President’s rule did not deter the court’s decision.
- Even if the court had ruled against the Proclamation issued under Article 356, it stated that no material relief could be provided as President’s Rule was revoked on October 31, 2019.
Understanding Article 370’s Temporariness
- The court clarified that Article 370 was a “temporary provision” established during a time of internal conflict and war to facilitate Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to the Union.
- It underscored that only the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir’s power to recommend abrogation ceased to exist with its dissolution in 1957.
- However, the President’s authority under Article 370(3) remained intact.
- Chief Justice highlighted that the State of Jammu and Kashmir did not possess “internal sovereignty” distinct from other states in the country.
- The special privileges and separate Constitution were considered aspects of asymmetric federalism rather than sovereignty.
- The Supreme Court’s verdict validates the abrogation of Article 370, emphasizing its temporary nature and underscoring the constitutional integration of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union.
- The ruling provides clarity on the President’s power, the historical context, and the state’s constitutional status while reiterating the primacy of the Indian Constitution in governing the entire nation.