NEW DELHI: The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will begin hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre and the reorganisation of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories from December 10.
The matter was listed for hearing on Thursday but the top court postponed the hearing in the case till December 10.
It may be recalled that a batch of petitions had been filed in the top court by leading Kashmiri politicians and activists challenging the Centre’s August 5 move to abrogate Article 370 that gave special status to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In its October 24 order, the Supreme Court had said that the petitions challenging the validity of provisions of Article 370, which was abrogated by the Centre on August 5, and Article 35-A would be dealt with by its 5-judge Constitution bench which is hearing the Kashmir matter.
Some of the petitioners had then told the top court that they have filed pleas challenging the existence of provisions of Articles 370 and 35-A which granted special status to J&K before the Centre came out with the decision to abrogate them.
The five-judge constitution bench had on October 1 given four weeks to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file counter-affidavits on the petitions and also put an embargo on the filing of any fresh writ petition challenging the constitutional validity on abrogation of Article 370.
In 2014, an NGO ‘We The Citizens’ had filed a petition in the apex court challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A. Later, six other pleas were also filed in the top court on the issue.
The top court had then dismissed the pleas and directed the petitioners to approach the high court.
Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accorded 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 denied property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applied to their heirs.
However, after the Centre’s move to scrap the Article 370, the provisions of Article 35A became null and void and all central rules became applicable in J&K after it was formally split in two Union Territories on the night of October 31.
Article 370 was included in the Constitution as a “temporary provision”. Courtesy this section, the residents of J&K lived under a separate set of laws dealing with property ownership and citizenship. Article 370 also fanned separatist emotions and enabled terrorism, the ruling BJP had contended while introducing the bill.
The two new UTs came into existence on the 144th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who played a crucial role in integrating 560 princely states into India.
After the bifurcation of J&K, the number of states in India stands at 28, and UTs at nine.
Light snowfall in many parts of Kashmir, min temp rises
Many parts of Kashmir received fresh light snowfall on Saturday, leading to an increase in the minimum temperature which brought some relief to the people from the intense cold conditions, the meteorological department said.
A MeT official said the weather would remain generally cloudy in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh Union territories on Saturday with chances of light rain or snow.
“Light snowfall of two to five inches occurred at many places of Kashmir, hilly areas of Jammu and on the higher reaches of Ladakh,” he said.
The official said the weather would remain generally cloudy in both the Union territories on Saturday.
“A spell of widespread light to moderate snowfall is likely to occur during January 6 to 7 evening,” he said.
The official said the fresh snowfall brought some relief to the residents in the Valley from the intense cold conditions as the night temperature showed improvement.
Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 0.1 degree Celsius Friday night over three degrees up from minus 3.7 degrees Celsius the previous night.
The official said the ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 6.5 degrees Celsius two degrees up from the previous night.
The night temperature at Pahalgam resort, which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius over seven degrees up from minus 10.0 degrees Celsius Thursday night, he said.
The official said Qazigund the gateway town to the valley – in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius up over six degrees from the previous night’s minus 7.0 degrees Celsius.
Kokernag town, also in south, recorded a low of minus 2.1 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in north, registered the minimum temperature at 0.8 degree Celsius, the official said.
The mercury in Leh in Ladakh settled at a low of minus 18.3 degrees Celsius, he said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ – the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and minimum temperatures drop considerably.
‘Chillai-Kalan’ began on December 21 and it will end on January 31. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).
Militants hurl grenade at CRPF personnel in Srinagar
Suspected militants hurled a grenade at Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Kawdara locality in Srinagar on Saturday, resulting in damage to several vehicles, police said.
However, there was no immediate report of any casualty or injury, they said.
A grenade was hurled by militants to target the CRPF personnel posted in Kawdara locality of the interior area of the city in the afternoon, police said.
The area was cordoned off immediately after the explosion and further details are awaited.
I-League: Chennai City goes down to Real Kashmir
Real Kashmir downed the reigning champion Chennai City FC 2-1 at the TRC Turf Ground on Thursday. The match was the first big sporting event in the valley since it became a union territory.
Danish Farooq Bhat opened the scoring for Real Kashmir in the 22nd minute before Bazie Armand doubled the lead lie minutes later.
Syed Suhail Pasha’s second half goal halved the deficit for Chennai City but Real Kashmir held on to its lead for its first win of the season. The three points lifted the home side above the visitor into seventh place.
Chennai City hasn’t made a convincing defence of its crown having picked up just five points in as many games.
There were security concerns in the lead up to the game due to the abrogation of Article 370 and the ensuing lockdown in the valley.
The match wasn’t telecast on the official broadcaster DSport. “Due to the ongoing internet connectivity issues in the Kashmir region, today’s match between @ChennaiCityFC & @realkashmirfc will not be telecasted on DSPORT,” DSport posted on its official Twitter page.