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Art. 370 Hearing: J&K Parties React Sharply on Centre's Stand on Statehood, Polls

Anees Zargar |
Statement similar to one made in Parliament… lot of political arguments being made in court, not legal ones, says Sajjad Lone.
Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar: Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have expressed their disappointment over the remarks made by Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta during the hearing of petitions in the Supreme Court challenging a presidential order that revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019. 

A five-judge Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Surya Kant are hearing the pleas on a day-to-day basis except Mondays and Fridays. 

The SG told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it the Centre could not give an exact timeline for the restoration of the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir but was ready to hold elections. His comments drew sharp reaction from the regional political leadership. 

Sajjad Lone, president of Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC), said he was “disappointed” because the statement was almost similar to the one made on the floor of Parliament in 2019. He said there was no timeline to what the government was stating and believed that lot of political arguments were being made in court, not legal ones. 

“If, for example, the government’s arguments about development and unemployment are considered, then does that mean that any state in India that lags in these two indicators will be converted into a Union territory? Will that be the new norm?” he said. 

Lone added that if the SC asks a question and the answer is same and as “ambiguous” and “evasive” as it was four years ago, then it is matter of concern. 

“These are fallacious arguments and I hope and pray that legality and justice prevails, and constitutional challenges are decided on the basis of Constitution and not on the basis of arguments that are non-legal in nature,” Lone said at a press conference here on Thursday. 

Imran Nabi Dar, spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC), told NewsClick that the Solicitor General's statement intended to minimise and divert attention from the core issue by trying to simplify it to a mere call for elections.

“We went to the Supreme Court with the aim of striking down the August 5, 2019 decisions as unconstitutional and to reinstate the August 4 status quo. Despite our consistent stance, the restoration of democratic rights cannot be further delayed.  There is no novelty in the statement. It echoes what they've been asserting for all these years,” he said. 

Suhail Bukhari, spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), pointed out that elections and statehood were not a priority even if they were an important part of the rights snatched from the people of the region.

“The core issue is the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A and this is also not the matter listed in the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice of India has also made that amply clear. We have observed that the Election Commission of India has been like as an extension of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and not like an independent institution. It remains to be seen what they will do now,” Bukhari told reporters adding that his party was hopeful that the apex court would soon decide on the matter.

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