SC requests timeline for reinstating Jammu and Kashmir statehood, Centre responds during Article 370 hearing.

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During the hearing of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370, the Supreme Court requested the Centre on Tuesday to provide information regarding a potential timeframe for the restoration of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, informed the court that the current status of Jammu and Kashmir as a union territory is temporary. He stated that a positive statement about the restoration timeframe could be made on August 31 after a high-level meeting, while Ladakh would remain a union territory.

The matter pertains to multiple petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which led to the division of the former state into two union territories. The case was referred to a Constitution bench in 2019.

The Centre emphasized that the current union territory status for Jammu and Kashmir is not permanent and that its statehood will be reinstated eventually. The Solicitor General cited the Home Minister’s statement in the House, asserting that this is a temporary measure. The Supreme Court seemed to agree with the notion that the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is subordinate to the Indian Constitution.

However, the bench had reservations regarding the argument that the disbanded Constituent Assembly of the erstwhile state was, in essence, a legislative assembly. The Centre pointed out that certain political parties misguidedly considered the special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir as privilege rather than discrimination.

The Supreme Court expressed its concern that despite the dissolution of the legislative assembly of the state on November 21, 2018, there were no challenges presented. Solicitor General Mehta stressed that the imposition of Governor’s rule in the state was prompted by the failure of constitutional machinery under Section 92 of the J-K Constitution on June 20, 2018. Only one petition was filed challenging this decision after a considerable delay of 14 months.

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