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On Monday, 11 December 2023, in a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld Modi Government’s August 2019 decision to end the special status of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) by abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution.

The bench directed the centre to restore statehood to J&K earliest and to the Election Commission to conduct legislative assembly polls by 30 Sep 2024. It also upheld the validity of the Centre’s decision to carve out the Union Territory of Ladakh from J&K.
 
The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, held that “Article 370 was a feature of asymmetric federalism and not sovereignty”. It delivered three judgments, one authored by the CJI with inputs from Justices BR Gavai & Syrya Kant, and two separate & concurring judgments by Justices Sanjiv Khanna & S K Kaul who recommended setting up a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to “investigate and report on the violation of human rights by both state and non-state actors” in J&K, and “recommend measures for reconciliation.”
 
The judgment took into account historical treaties, constitutional & legal provisions, procedural proprieties, and principle of sovereignty, reports Indian Express. Its editorial notes:
 
“No one expected the abrogation of Article 370 to be reversed. The historical case is ambiguous and the political might behind abrogation overwhelming. Article 370 had, in effect, been progressively attenuated since the 1960s. The question was always about the procedure for doing it – whether it could be done without the express consent of some appropriate body that was representative of the people of J&K? And whether some kind of asymmetric federalism that does justice to the historical identity of J&K is still possible.”
 
PM Modi has welcomed the Supreme Court verdict. Congress, the major opposition party said debate on Article 370 is over with SC ruling, demanded restoration of statehood & immediate polls. Congress said it neither demanded its restoration nor was a party to any case in the top court; it reiterated its reservation over the manner in which Article 370 was abrogated.
 
Article 370 has been firmly buried with the imprimatur of SC, says Times of India. Its editorial notes: “There was no question of J&K’s current status changing. But SC ruling that the President had powers to nullify Article 370 takes us to the issue of Constitution’s centralising tilt, and its impact on federalism.”
 
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Disclaimer: The Article has reference to open sources including Times of India, Indian Express & ET. Image Source: India Today

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