‘Is There a Time Frame,’ CJI Asks After Govt Says J&K Statehood Will Be Restored


However, Ladakh will continue to remain a Union Territory, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the apex court.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — The Union government will restore the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), the Centre assured the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said Ladakh will continue to remain a Union Territory, media reports said.

The development comes as a Constitution Bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud, continued hearing petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to repeal the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A.

‘I have taken instructions. The instructions are that Union Territory is not a permanent feature. But I will make a positive statement the day after tomorrow. Ladakh will remain a Union Territory’, Mehta said during the course of the hearing.

Such an assurance was given after the CJI asked the Solicitor General to take instructions from the Union government on whether there is a definite timeline for the restoration of Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood while underscoring that the restoration of democracy is vital.

“We understand that these are matters of national security…the preservation of nation itself is the overriding concern. But without putting you in a bind, you and the Attorney General may seek instructions on the highest level — is there a time frame in view?’, CJI Chandrachud was quoted as saying.

The Bench had earlier asked Attorney General R. Venkataramani to look into the suspension of Zahoor Ahmad Bhat, a senior lecturer of political science four days after he pleaded against the Centre’s move to abrogate Article 370 before the apex court. Justice B.R. Gavai also questioned the Centre about the “close proximity” between Bhat’s appearance in court and the suspension order.

On August 5, 2019, the Centre decided to strip the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir of special status and bifurcate it into two Union Territories. By abrogating Article 370, the Central government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Several petitions challenging the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, were referred to a Constitution Bench in 2019.

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