NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court on Saturday set up a five-member constitutional panel to hear petitions challenging the decision by New Delhi to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. The panel, headed by Justice N.V. Ramana, is expected to start its hearings in early October.
On Aug. 5, the Indian government revoked the special status of the disputed border state, dividing Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, and placing Kashmir under New Delhi’s direct control.
The valley region has been under lockdown since with no mobile and internet network, and business and schools completely shut down.
Petitions filed by different groups have questioned New Delhi’s decision to “unilaterally unravel the unique federal scheme and undermining crucial elements of due process and the rule of law.”
One petition described the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir as “arbitrary.”
The petition also questions the right of the state governor to speak for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and recommend the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
The end of special status “amounted to the overnight abrogation of the democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir upon its accession,” the petition argues.
One of the petitioners, Radha Kumar, director general of the Delhi Policy Group think tank, told Arab News that she did not want to “prejudge the decision of the court.”
“The main question in Kashmir now is how the government is going to address the human and political suffering,” she said.
Prof. Ghulam Mohmad Shah, of the New Delhi-based Jamia Millia Islamia, said that the “Indian judiciary is also under scrutiny now and the court has to act impartially.”
“It’s simple — New Delhi has not involved the local assembly in taking such a decision which the Constitution mandates,” Shah told Arab News.