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Article 370: Unraveling the Supreme Court’s Decision with Five Judges and Three Verdicts

The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision on December 11, has upheld the removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. A constitution bench of five esteemed judges, including Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjeev Khanna, Justice BR Gavai, and Justice Surya Kant, heard the matter, providing significant relief to the Central Government. Here’s a deep dive into the key aspects discussed during the hearing and the profound implications of the verdict.

1. Unveiling the Bench’s Three Decisions:

Chief Justice DY Chandrachud emphasized that the bench of five judges rendered three distinct decisions on the issue of Article 370.

2. Validity of the President’s Proclamation:

CJI Chandrachud highlighted that the Supreme Court deemed it unnecessary to rule on the validity of the President’s proclamation in Jammu and Kashmir, as the petitioners did not challenge it.

3. Irreversible Actions During the President’s Rule:

The Supreme Court rejected the petitioners’ argument that irreversible actions cannot be taken by the Center during the President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir.

4. Jammu and Kashmir’s Integration:

The Court asserted that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, debunking any notion of internal sovereignty separate from other states.

5. Temporary Nature of Article 370:

CJI Chandrachud clarified that Article 370 was a temporary provision due to the war situation in the state. The President’s power to abrogate it still exists.

6. Constitutionality of the Center’s Decisions:

The bench affirmed that every decision taken by the Center on behalf of the state during President’s rule cannot be challenged.

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7. Restoration of Statehood:

The Supreme Court directed the restoration of statehood in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest.

8. Elections in Jammu and Kashmir:

The Court mandated that steps should be taken for early elections in Jammu and Kashmir, with elections scheduled to be held by September 30, 2024.

Insights from Chief Justice DY Chandrachud:
During the hearing, CJI Chandrachud highlighted the absence of any mention of sovereignty in the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. He emphasized that Article 370 aimed for constitutional integration with the Union, not dissolution.

CJI Chandrachud remarked, “Removing 370 is constitutionally correct. The President has the right to take decisions,” asserting the constitutionality of the decision to remove Article 370.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul’s Perspective:
Justice Kaul recommended the establishment of an impartial committee to investigate human rights violations dating back to the 1980s, aiming to restore peace. He underscored that the purpose of Article 370 was to gradually align Jammu and Kashmir with other states.

Justice Sanjeev Khanna’s Insight:
Justice Khanna characterized Article 370 as an example of asymmetric federalism, emphasizing that its removal does not signify the end of federalism in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Verdict’s Culmination:
The hearing, which spanned 16 days, concluded with a directive to the Election Commission to facilitate elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September 2024.

The Historic Context:
The Supreme Court’s decision follows the Central Government’s move on August 5, 2019, to present a bill in Parliament for the removal of Article 370, ultimately repealing this significant constitutional provision.

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