New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it will hear the pleas challenging the decision to abolish the Constitution's Article 370 that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir from November 14, while granting four weeks time to the Centre to file a response on the batch of petitions.
A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice N.V. Ramana, also granted time to Jammu and Kashmir to file a response on the pleas and thereafter granted one week time to the petitioners to file a rejoinder on the government's response.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought time to file a counter-affidavit on the pleas, saying that they need more time to file responses. They also told the court there are 10 writ petitions with different averments.
At this, the bench observed that reasonable time should be given to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file their counter response to commence the further hearing in the issue.
The petitions have challenged the Constitutional validity of the Centre's decision and subsequent Presidential orders on scrapping the provisions of the article, which actually made it a dead letter in the Constitution. They have also challenged the bifurcation of the state into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Meanwhile, the top court also directed the registry not to entertain any fresh pleas challenging the revocation of Article 370. "We can't have an unending process of filing of writ petitions in the matter. Whatever has been filed has already been filed," the bench said.
However, it clarified that there is no bar on entertaining petitions dealing with other issues related to Article 370. The bench also asked the Registrar to verify and report to it on the pending petitions dealing with similar issues when it was apprised by some of the counsel that they had filed pleas challenging the existence of provisions of Articles 370 and 35-A much before the Centre's decision to remove it.
Meanwhile, the petitioner's lawyers seeking urgent hearing and status quo on Jammu and Kashmir issues told the court that as per new legislation, the state of Jammu and Kashmir would become two separate Union Territories on October 31.
The petitioner also said that the process will be irreversible and the petitions must not be rendered infructuous.
However, the court did not grant an urgent hearing on the pleas saying that it is unreasonable to think that decision would be taken before October 31.
The court also pulled up advocate M.L. Sharma, saying that he cannot be entertained first as he was the first to approach the court.
The court also pointed out that there was nothing in his petition, which was only being entertained due to other pleas challenging the decision. The court said it does not believe in the concept of fastest finger first.
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