Ex-J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti Highlights Pending Cases Against Article 370 Abrogation Amid CJI Chandrachud's Visit

Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud was in Srinagar to deliver the inaugural address of the 19th All India Legal Services Authorities’ Meet on Friday.

Mehbooba Mufti

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and current J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha spoke on the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A as Chief Justice DY Chandrachud visited Srinagar. 

While Sinha termed the Narendra Modi government’s 2019 decision as “historic reforms”, Mehbooba drew attention to the legal challenges to the decision pending in the Supreme Court.

On August 5, 2019, the Modi government abrogated the Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India and scrapped J&K’s special status. The state was also bifurcated into two Union Territories (UTs) of J&K and Ladakh. 

Chandrachud was in Srinagar to deliver the inaugural address of the 19th All India Legal Services Authorities’ Meet on Friday. 

What did Mehbooba Mufti say?

Former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti raised the cases against the abrogation of Article 370 pending before the Apex Court for the past four years. 

Mehbooba also sought the attention of Chandrachud about “thousands of youngsters” languishing in jails without trial.
She tweeted, “Welcome CJI to Kashmir. Article 370 — a Constitutional commitment of this nation to the people of J&K was illegally revoked. This is despite earlier Supreme Court rulings against its abrogation. It has been four years yet the matter is still pending before the Honourable Court.

“Thousands of our youngsters are languishing behind bars without recourse to a trial. The process itself has become the punishment.

“J&K acceded to India out of choice and not compulsion. Then why is it being deprived of basic fundamental rights and guarantees given by the Constitution itself? I earnestly hope your presence throws light upon these pressing issues.”
Chandrachud lauds legal aid authorities

In his address, CJI Chandrachud congratulated the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) and J&K Legal Services Authority for organising the meet and bringing together the wealth of learning and experience of the Indian Judiciary.

He said, “This significant meet in the perspective of the Indian Judiciary is the reflection of mainstreaming of J&K and Ladakh in the discourse of development in India.

“Our Constitution seeks to create a social order based on the ideals of liberty, equality and social justice. The Indian Constitution recognised the fundamental rights of every individual regardless of their social and economic status.”

Chandrachud flagged that less than 8 per cent of under-trials use the legal aid they are entitled to.

“We need to re-engineer rules. Those rules were made when summons used to be delivered on horseback. Those rules are not relevant in the times we live in. Whether it is in the form of our civil or criminal manuals, we need to make them more relevant and flexible,” said Chandrachud.

J&K LG Sinha praises Article 370 abrogation

Addressing the meeting, J&K LG Manoj Sinha lauded the efforts of legal services authorities to achieve the constitutional goal under Article 39 (A) to provide free legal aid to weaker sections of society and also ensure the welfare of people and uphold justice and social equity.

While talking about the abrogation of Article 370, Sinha said that, in J&K, for almost seven decades, Article 370 prevented central legislation from benefiting a large section of society.

“It had also denied benefits of legitimate citizenship to a sizeable section of society. Abrogation of Article 370 ensured social equity and inclusive development,” Sinha said.

Sinha said the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A brought historic reforms and a new era in J&K. 

He said, “Today, the UT is offering limitless possibilities to the people, especially to those from the weaker section of the society, who were deprived of the benefits of the laws enacted by the Parliament.”

Sinha said after the abrogation of Article 370, within four years, J&K is synonymous with peace, progress, and prosperity. 

He said, “The world has seen our capability, our socio-economic growth during the last month's G20 meeting. Projects are being implemented with unprecedented speed and we have taken infrastructure development to a new height.

“Obsolete land rules were scrapped and land passbooks were issued in three languages to empower farmers and landowners. Transparent and accountable governance has ensured that development benefits all sections and areas victims of unbalanced progress were brought into developmental mainstream.”

The petitions against Article 370 abrogation

The petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019 are pending before the Supreme Court since 2019. 

On December 22, 2022, the bench comprising CJI Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha agreed to examine and list of pleas but there has not been any progress since.

The petitioners, mostly mainstream political parties, have been saying that the central government is not interested in hearing the case. Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government does not want a hearing of petitions challenging the validity of revocation of Article 370 in the Supreme Court “as it would be impossible for it to defend abrogation of Article 370”.