Jammu & Kashmir

SC directs ECI to hold elections in JK by Sept next year

Armed forces personnel deployed outside polling station in Srinagar, Kashmir. [FPK File Photo]

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission of India to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir by September 2024. The top court also said that the statehood of the erstwhile state should be restored as soon as possible.

Earlier, the court upheld the President’s order allowing the Government of India (GoI) to amend Article 370 without the recommendation of the constituent assembly.

The 5-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud held that exercise of presidential power to issue constitutional order abrogating Article 370 of constitution is valid.

The court observed that when constituent assembly of JK ceased to exist, special condition for which Article 370 was introduced ceased to exist.

The top also directed that restoration of statehood in Union Territory of JK shall be done at the earliest and steps be taken by the Election Commission of India to conduct elections to J&K Assembly by Sep 30, 2024.

The Supreme Court said that it cannot sit in appeal over the decision of the President of India on whether the special circumstances under Article 370 exist.

History shows the gradual process of constitutional integration was not going on. It was not as if after 70 years, the Constitution of India was applied in one go. It was a culmination of the integration process.

“We have held that all provisions of the Constitution of India can be applied to Jammu and Kashmir using Article 370(1)(d) in one go. We do not find the use of Presidential power to issue CO 273 was mala fide. Thus we hold the exercise of Presidential power to be valid,” Chief Justice said.

The Court held that Article 370 is a temporary provision and was an interim arrangement due to war conditions in the state.

“The state of Jammu and Kashmir does not have internal sovereignty different from other states. Whether Jammu and Kashmir retained an element of sovereignty or internal sovereignty when it joined the Union of India, we have held no.”

The top court there is a clear absence in the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir to the reference of sovereignty and that the State became an integral part of India is evident from Articles 1 and 370 of the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court refused to rule on the validity of the Presidential rule imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in December 2018 since it was not specifically challenged by the petitioners.

“When a proclamation under Article 356 comes into force, countless decisions are taken by the Centre. Not every action can be challenged,” the court said.

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