New Delhi, Jan 9: The Supreme Court on Wednesday deferred hearing on a plea challenging the validity of the sensitive Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act of 1982, and said the Chief Justice will fix the further date for hearing in the matter.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul perused the letter circulated by Jammu and Kashmir government seeking adjournment and asked the reason for it.
The bench deferred the hearing and said the date of further hearing will be fixed by the Chief Justice of India in chambers.
Jammu and Kashmir Standing counsel Shoeb Alam and advocate general D C Raina said adjournment of proceeding was sought as the state was currently under the President’s rule.
Alam said since the enactment challenged in the plea filed by Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) was a legislation of a state assembly, therefore matter should be heard when the elected government comes in place.
To this, the bench said that it cannot defer the matter for hearing indefinitely and there was always a government in place.
The state government counsel further said that the matter was sensitive and an adjournment was sought only till the time an elected government comes in power and it was not his submission that there was no government in place.
Alam suggested that matter could be heard in April.
Justice Kaul asked him whether the competent authority under the Act was ever notified and whether any applications for re-settlement had been received.
He replied in negative to both the queries.
Justice Kaul then asked senior advocate Bhim Singh, appearing for JKNPP, as to what was the hurry in hearing the matter, when the Act was never operated and moreover there was a stay on its operation from the apex court.
Singh replied that the matter has been pending since 2001 and it needs to be finally adjudicated at the earliest.
The bench then pointed out that in their opinion, the only issue that remains was whether the descendants of permanent residents, who migrated to Pakistan, could be permitted to return, especially in view of the fact that no application has been filed by the permanent residents of the state that too after more than 70 years of migration.
Permanent residents are the persons who are being given special rights and privileges under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution.
It asked Alam and Raina to seek instructions on this aspect.
The state government had on January 7, moved the apex court seeking adjournment of the hearing on a plea saying that there is no elected government in place.
On December 13 last year, the apex court, while hearing the plea challenging the validity of the sensitive Act, had sought to know as to how many people who migrated from the state have applied for returning from Pakistan.
The top court was apprised that the Act was meant for those people who had migrated to Pakistan during the partition in 1947 and were willing to return.
The Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act of 1982, which was stayed by the apex court in 2001, envisages grant of permit for resettlement of Pakistani nationals who had migrated to Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir between 1947 and 1954 after India’s partition.
The top court had on August 16, 2016 indicated that it may refer the matter to a constitution bench if it finds that some issues needed interpretation of the Constitution.