Set up to hear the challenge to amendments made to Article 370 of the Constitution, thereby scrapping special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court Constitution Bench will also take up petitions against alleged detentions and communications blackout in J&K following the Union government’s August 5 move.
On Monday, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi transferred all petitions pending before it to the Constitution Bench headed by Justice N V Ramana. The bench was constituted especially to hear matters related to Article 370 starting Tuesday.
These include pleas by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times newspaper; the habeus corpus petition by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury questioning detention of party colleague Yusuf Tarigami; and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking permission to travel to J&K.
The CJI-led bench refused to keep pending a habeus corpus petition filed by Rajya Sabha member and MDMK leader Vaiko, seeking production of former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah. The court said that nothing survived in it after Abdullah’s detention under the Public Safety Act.
“After the filing of the writ petition, Dr Farooq Abdullah has been detained under the Public Safety Act. The said detention is open to challenge before the appropriate forum. In that view of the matter, we find that no live issue remains to be adjudicated in this writ petition. The same is, accordingly, dismissed,” the court said.
Appearing for Vaiko, senior advocate Ajmal Khan questioned the detention order and said the government could not render the petition pending before it infructuos with its action. The bench replied that the petitioner is at liberty to approach the appropriate forum, if so advised.
The court also referred a petition filed by Bhasin against what she claimed was a “communications blackout” after the August 5 decision to the bench headed by Justice Ramana.
While Bhasin’s counsel told the bench that the government is yet to file its response to the petition, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the reply is ready and that it will be filed before the Constitution Bench.
Mehta also contended that nothing survived in Yechury’s petition on Tarigami, as the J&K leader had also moved court in his personal capacity. The court told Mehta to raise this before the Constitution bench.
The bench headed by Justice Ramana will also hear a petition by child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha challenging alleged detention of children in J&K.
Stating that the plea “raises issues beyond any individual”, the court had on the last date of hearing asked the Juvenile Justice Committee of J&K High Court to enquire into it and submit a report. On Monday, CJI Gogoi said the court had received the committee’s report and directed that it be given to the petitioners.
In his fresh plea, Tarigami has challenged the Centre’s decision to revoke special status to J&K. His petition also raises the issue of alleged lockdown in J&K.