Article 370 Case: No Intention to Interfere with Other Special Provisions of the Constitution, Centre Tells SC

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Chief Justice said: “Why should we deal with anything in anticipation or apprehension? We are dealing with a specific provision, namely, Art 370.” 

NEW DELHI — During hearing on pleas pertaining to Article 370, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Wednesday submitted before the Constitution Bench that the Union government has absolutely no intention to interfere with the special provisions of the Constitution applicable to north-east states or any other part of the country.

“We must understand the difference between temporary provision, which is Article 370, and special provisions with regards to other states, including the north-east. The Central government has no intention to touch any part (of the Constitution) which gives special provisions to the North East and other regions,” he said, in response to an intervention application filed in pleas challenging the stripping down of the special status granted to Jammu & Kashmir. 

Advocate Manish Tewari, appearing for an intervenor, a former minister from Arunachal Pradesh, argued that interpretation which will be given by the Constitution Bench on Article 370 would have impact on other special provisions like Article 371, the six sub-parts which apply to North East under Part XXI of the Constitution and the VI schedule which applies to Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram. 

“The underlying principle of autonomy under Article 370 and Article 371 is more or less the same. So therefore, what your lordships will hold in this matter, either way, will have implications on Article 371,” he contended. 

He added: “Even a slight apprehension in the periphery of India can have serious implications. Your lordships are currently dealing with one such situation in Manipur.”

SG Tushar Mehta interjected and said that the Union government has no intention to take away any part which gives special provisions to North East and other regions. He said that “there is no need to create apprehension. I’m putting that apprehension at rest on behalf of the Centre.”

At this, CJI DY Chandrachud also said: “Why should we deal with anything in anticipation or apprehension? We are dealing with a specific provision, namely, Art 370.” He also said that SG has made a statement to the court that the government has no such intention to take away other special provisions of the Constitution. 

Advocate Tewari defended his submission and stated that he “was not referring to the current central government” but “was referring to the principle (of federalism), at state.” 

“I’m not trying to equate temporary, which has been argued as permanent (in reference to Article 370) with special provisions but the underlying principle of autonomy, which runs through 370 and 371 is the same,” Tewari said. 

The Constitution Bench said that it will not not focus on North East like this and told the intervenor that its apprehensions are allayed by the statements made on behalf of the Central government. “You have nothing to say on Article 370. So why should we hear? We will close your IA by taking the submission of Solicitor General on the record,” it told the intervenors. 

The Supreme Court disposed of the Intervention Application in view of the stand taken by the Centre saying that there is no commonality of interest in the IA (Intervention Application) and the reference being heard by the Constitution Bench. 

Manish Tewari, who is a practising advocate of the Supreme Court, is also a Congress MP from Punjab and a former Union Minister. — IANS

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