The Supreme Court today said that a three-judge bench would decide whether the pleas challenging Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to the natives of Jammu and Kashmir, should be referred to a five-judge Constitution bench for examining the larger issue of alleged violation of the doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A Khanwilkar adjourned the crucial hearing on as many as five petitions “to the week commencing from August 27” on the grounds that they pertained to the challenge to a Constitutional scheme and could not be heard as the third judge, Justice D Y Chandrachud, was not present today.
As the matter came up today in the backdrop of protests in Jammu and Kashmir on the issue, the State Government sought adjournment of the hearing citing upcoming local body elections in the State and was supported by the Centre.
The lawyers for petitioners, however, vehemently opposed the adjournment plea and sought an early hearing after the bench clarified that it cannot take up the matter due to lack of quorum.
“Once you have challenged the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, a three Judge bench would decide whether they have to go before a Constitution bench. A three-Judge Bench will determine it. A three-Judge bench has been dealing with it,” the CJI said.
“A three-Judge bench will consider whether it has to go before a Constitution bench,” the court said, making it clear that the hearing has to be adjourned as Justice Chandrachud, one of the three judges of the bench, was not present.
The bench made clear that under Article 145 (special provisions as to disposal of questions relating to Constitutional validity of laws) of the Constitution, any challenge to validity of a Constitutional provision needed to be adjudicated upon by a larger bench.
The court, in its historic Kesavananda Bharati judgement in 1973, had propounded the basic structure doctrine and had said that the Constitution has certain basic features like fundamental rights and judicial independence which cannot be altered even by Parliament.
Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the State from acquiring any immovable property in the State.
It also denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the State Gorfeiting their rights over property, also applies to their heirs.
All eyes were on the Apex Court today as the matter came a day after civil society organisations and business and trade bodies kept up their protests against the pleas challenging the validity of Article 35A.
At the outset, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was assisted by lawyers D C Raina and Shoeb Alam, appeared on behalf of the State Government and sought adjournment of the hearing on the ground of local body elections in the State likely to be held in September.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, also supported the submission.
The petitioners, opposed to the Article 35A, including NGO ‘We the Citizens’, which was represented by lawyer Barun Kumar Sinha, opposed the adjournment plea of the State Government.
The court said the three judge bench needed to determine whether these matters were required to be referred to a five-judge Constitution bench.
When some lawyers insisted that an urgent hearing was needed, the bench asked, “Tell us, when the article came, Article 35A, came into the Constitution in 1954”.
When some advocates pointed out ongoing lawyers’ protests in favour and against the provision, the court said, “We are not concerned”. It reiterated the matters have to be heard by a three-judge bench, which was not assembling today.
It said in “matters like this” where constitutional scheme was under challenge, the court would like to hear Attorney General K K Venugopal and even the counsel for state will have “very limited” and “minimal” role to address.
The court’s observation that the State has a “minimal role” in the judicial scrutiny of Article 35A, drew sharp observation from the counsel for the State Government and others like National Conference and CPI(M).
“The State Government has a very key and pivotal role in it,” senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for one of the parties, said.
The bench then adjourned the hearing, saying it would hear “preliminary arguments” in the week commencing from August 27. The apex court is hearing a batch of pleas seeking quashing of the article which confers special status to permanent residents of the State.
Political parties, including the National Conference and the CPI-M, have moved the Supreme Court in support of Article 35-A that empowers the state assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.
The State Government, while defending the Article, had cited two verdicts by the Constitution benches of the Supreme Court in 1961 and 1969, which had upheld the powers of the president under Article 370(1)(d) of the Constitution to pass constitutional orders. The Article was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 by an order of president Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the then Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet
Soldier killed in Pak sniping
Pakistani troops last night sniped a soldier along the Line of Control (LoC) in Tanghdar sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district while militants abducted and killed a man in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district and police today arrested two Over Ground Workers (OGWs) of militants involved in rifle snatching.
Pakistani troops last night sniped a soldier of 20-Jat Regiment deployed on Sangar post on the LoC in Tanghdar sector. Sepoy Pushpinder (320658L) was critically injured in the sniping and later succumbed to his injuries.
Sources said that Pakistan troops from Mujahid post opposite to Sangar post shot at the soldier during the night. The Army also fired back but there were no reports of loss on Pakistani side.
And militants last night abducted and killed a man in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district while two Over Ground Workers of militants involved in rifle snatching were arrested today.
The gunmen barged into the house of Gulzar Ahmad Bhat son of Abdul Gani Bhat, resident of Murran, Pulwama and abducted him. His bullet riddled body was recovered in the morning. He was running an eye clinic at Bijbehara.
A police spokesman said here:”Terrorists in Murran Pulwama yesterday night barged inside the house of Gulzar Ahmad Bhat son of Abdul Gani Bhat, resident of Murran, Pulwama and abducted him.”
“Later, police recovered the bullet riddled dead body of Gulzar from the nearby fields of Murran, Pulwama. Police has registered a case and initiated investigation. Initial investigation in the matter suggested that in this incident Zahoor Thokar and Showkat Dar led group of proscribed terror outfit HM are involved in this killing”, the spokesman added.
In the meantime, police said that they arrested two OGWs of militants in connection with rifle snatching incident in Khrew, Pampore.
Police said that on August 10, two persons barged inside Jammu and Kashmir Bank Branch Khrew and attacked Bank guard Mumtaz Ahmad with pepper spray and sharp edged weapon in an attempt to snatch his 12 bore rifle. “But the security guard bravely resisted the attempts made to snatch his rifle thereby successfully foiling the rifle snatching bid,” police said.
The guard Mumtaz sustained injuries and was evacuated to Khrew hospital for medical treatment while the accused persons fled away from the spot.
“Consequent upon this, case FIR No. 57/2018 under relevant Sections of law was registered at police station Khrew and the investigation in the matter was initiated,” police said adding “during the course of investigation it came across that two OGWs namely Yasir Ahmad Wani son of Bashir Ahmad resident of Babapora and Yawar Sultan son of Mohammad Sultan resident of Shar Shali, Khrew were involved in commission of crime and were subsequently arrested”, police said
Yatra suspended for 3 days
Holy Amarnath yatra was suspended from Jammu to Srinagar for three consecutive days from today for security reasons and no pilgrim was allowed to leave for holy cave from here.
The yatra will also remain suspended on August 14 and 15 from Jammu to twin base camps of Baltal in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir and Nunwan -Pahalgam in South Kashmir district of Anantnag due to security reasons, official sources said.
However, the yatra from Baltal plied normally today and 657 pilgrims paid obeisance holy cave of Swami Amarnath Ji on 47th day of darshan today, an Officer on yatra duty said.
He said till date 2,79,535 pilgrims performed darshan in the holy cave since the two month long yatra started on June 28.
The officer said no yatri was allowed to leave for holy cave from traditional Chandanwari track and yatra remained suspended from Nunwan Base camp also today.
He said, however, 153 pilgrims from Baltal base camp left for holy cave early this morning for darshan while 81 left by chopper during the day.
He said the traffic from both the base camps to Jammu will remain suspended tomorrow and day after tomorrow due to security reasons and no pilgrim will be allowed to leave for Jammu during these two days.
Meanwhile, in connection with annual pilgrimage of Chhari-Mubarak, Swami Amarnathji, ‘Chhari-Sthapana’ ceremony was performed with chanting of Vedic hymn at Shri Amareshwar Temple, Akhara Building, Budshah Chowk, Srinagar this morning by a group of Sadhus led by Mahant Deependra Giri Ji, the sole custodian of the holy mace and the head of True Trust formed by him in 2004. It took more than two hours completing the rituals.
Chhari-Mubarak (holy mace), one depicting Lord Shiva and another Goddess Parvati shall be kept in the temple at Akhara building Srinagar for ‘darshan’ till it leaves for main course of pilgrimage on August 20.
Pilgrims and public in general have the privilege to have ‘darshan’ of holy mace kept in Shri Amareshwar Temple, Dashnami Akhara Srinagar during these days.
Traditional ‘Chhari-Pujan’ will be performed on August 15 on the occasion of ‘Nag-Panchami’ (Shravan Shukla Paksha Panchami) at Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar.
‘The True Trust’, founded by Mahant Deependra Giri Ji has made all the necessary arrangements like yester years for Sadhus and needy from the general public coming from across the country to join Chhari-Mubarak of Swami Amarnath Ji Yatra for their food, accommodation and transportation during the annual pilgrimage.
Then Charri Mubarak which will leave Dashnami Akhara on August 20 will reach Pahalgam on the dame day after performing puja enroute at Durga Nag temple lying in the foothills of Shankracharya hill lock in Srinagar, Shiv temple of Pampore, Awantipora, Bijbehara, Anantnag, Sun temple of Mattan, Ganeshbal before reaching Pahalgam. After having two days halt at Pahalgam, the holy mace will leave for cave shrine situated at an altitude of 3880 meters in deep Himlayas on August 22 to reach there in the wee hours of Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha bandhan festival on August 26.
After performing the puja for the whole day in the holy cave the Chhari Mubarak will leave for Panchtarni in the evening same day. After a night halt at Panchtarni it will leave for Pahalgam next day where with the performance of immersion ceremonies and other rituals on the bank of river Lidder in a traditional way, the holy mace will return to its abode Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar marking the end of two month long annual Amarnath yatra.
Wanah Organic launched
JAMMU: Wanah Organic Food Products (P) Limited was launched today in a grand function at Hotel Ramada, KC City Centre Jammu.
The launch was done by the reputed dignitaries including former Minister and MLA Inderwal, GM Saroori, DCC president, Kishtwar, Mohinder Parihar, noted entrepreneur, Tahir Rufayee, State president, NSUI Raqeeq Khan,Dr.Mubashar Mir and founder and CEO of the Company, Thakur Randeep Bhandari.
On the occasion, e-commerce website of Wanahorganic.com was also launched. Speaking on the launching ceremony, MLA Inderwal, it is high time for youth to start something productive which can benefit the society.
While speaking on the occasion, CEO of the Company told the gathering that it was his dream project and after working hard for 2 years he has become able to launch the company and its e-commerce website. He said that Wanah Organic will be selling the organic products which are specially found in J&K through their e-commerce website.
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