India apex court gives BJP govt 4 weeks to reply to petitions challenging Article 370

NEW DELHI: A five-judge bench of India’s Supreme Court on Tuesday granted the government four weeks to file its response to a batch of petitions challenging the scrapping of occupied Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of Constitution, reported Indian media.

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The SC also placed an embargo on filing of any fresh writ petition challenging constitutional validity on abrogation of Article 370, said The Quint.

The bench will take up the issue on November 14. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government terminated autonomy of occupied Kashmir on August 5 while placing the valley under a lockdown and arresting Kashmiri leaders in a bid to prevent protests against the move. On October 5, the clampdown will have been in place for two months.

The pleas have challenged the communication blockade in occupied Kashmir, the illegal detention of children, and the impact of restrictions on healthcare.

The top court bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana, allowed the government and the occupied Jammu and Kashmir administration to file counter-affidavits on petitions challenging the repealing of Article 370.

The apex court refused the plea of petitioners that not more than two weeks be given, said The Hindu.

Senior Counsel Raju Ramachandran pointed out that the bifurcation of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, approved by Indian parliament on August 5, would come into effect on October 31. “The process will be irreversible and the petitions must not be rendered infructuous,” he urged the court, according to Scroll.in.

Meanwhile, on all the petitions and applications relating to the lockdown, the Supreme Court directed the government to file its response and adjourned the matter until October 16.

National Conference Lok Sabha members Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi have also filed a petition under Article 32 of Constitution, which allows the Supreme Court to issue any order to protect the fundamental rights of citizens, Scroll.in added. According to them, the presidential order was “unconstitutional, void and inoperative” in occupied Kashmir.

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