The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration four weeks time to file counter-affidavits on petitions challenging scrapping of Article 370. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice N V Ramana fixed November 14 to commence hearing on a batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The top court refused the plea of petitioners that not more than 2 weeks be given to the Centre and J&K administration for filing counter-affidavits. The apex court also put embargo on filing of any fresh writ petition challenging constitutional validity on abrogation of Article 370. The bench said one week time would be for the petitioners to file their replies to the counter-affidavit that would be filed by the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration within four weeks.
"We have to allow the Centre and the J&K administration to file counter-affidavit otherwise we can't decide the matter," the bench also comprising justices S K Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant said.
The Centre on August 5 moved to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the region into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. A day later, Parliament passed the changes in the form Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019. The UTs will come into being on October 31.
Several pleas have been filed in the top court challenging the Centre's August 5 decision.
Advocate M L Sharma became the first petitioner in the case when he filed a petition in the apex court on August 6 challenging the Presidential order on Article 370.
Later, several political parties including the National Conference (NC), the Sajjad Lone-led J&K Peoples Conference and CPI (M) leader Mohd Yousuf Tarigami have filed pleas in this regard in the top court. The petition on behalf of NC was filed by Lok Sabha MPs Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi. Lone is a former speaker of the J&K Assembly and Masoodi is a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. In 2015, Justice (retd) Masoodi had ruled that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution.
Other pleas include the one filed by a group of former defence officers and bureaucrats. They have also sought directions declaring the presidential orders of August 5 "unconstitutional, void and inoperative".
The plea was filed by professor Radha Kumar, a former member of the Home Ministry's Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir (2010-11), former IAS officer of J&K cadre Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak, Major General (retd) Ashok Kumar Mehta, former Punjab-cadre IAS officer Amitabha Pande and former Kerala-cadre IAS officer Gopal Pillai, who retired as the Union home secretary in 2011.
A plea has also been filed by bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, along with his party colleague and former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) leader Shehla Rashid. Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi had set up the Constitution bench of justices N V Ramana, S K Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant to commence hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the scrapping of provisions of Article 370.