New Delhi: A group of retired senior bureaucrats and defence personnel who have served in or been associated with Jammu and Kashmir have filed a joint petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the president’s amendments to Article 370 and the J&K Reorganisation Bill.
Saying that the changes strike at the heart of the principles on which the state of J&K was integrated into India, the petition notes that they have no sanction from the people of the state. It also says that affirmation of the people of the state is a constitutional imperative.
According to a report in India Today, the petition states,”Article 370(3) of the Constitution requires the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir to recommend a presidential notification under Article 370(3) declaring that Article 370 shall cease to be operative”. It adds that since the constituent assembly of the state no longer exists, it couldn’t have made such a recommendation.
The move to abrogate provisions of Article 370 without ascertaining the will of the people “violates the basic principles of democracy, federalism, and fundamental rights,” it further states.
The six petitioners are Radha Kumar, Hindal Haidar Tyabji, Kapil Kak, Ashok Kumar Mehta, Amitabha Pande and Gopal Pillai.
Kak and Mehta are retired defence personnel. While Kak, a Kashmiri Pandit and permanent resident of the state, is a decorated officer who has served as the Air Vice Marshal, Mehta has held postings in Uri Sector, south of the Pir Panjal in Rajouri and has fought in the 1965 as well as 1971 Indo-Pak war. Mehta has also served in the Kargil and Ladakh sectors.
Tyabji, Pande and Pillai are former high-ranking bureaucrats. Kumar is a former member of the Home Ministry’s Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir (2010-11), as well as an academic and policy analyst who has worked on conflicts and peacemaking in South Asia, Europe and Africa for over 20 years
Tyabji is a former chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir and has also acted as advisor to former governor N.N. Vohra.
Pande is a former secretary of the Inter State Council of the Government of India, a constitutional machinery for federal policy coordination, diversity management and consensus building between the Union of India and the states, and among the states.
Pillai is a former Union home secretary who has dealt with the state in both peacetime and turmoil.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had pulled up petitioners including M.L. Sharma and Shabir Shakil for their ‘defective’ pleas on Article 370. Sharma is a lawyer and Shakil is a Kashmiri advocate. Sharma is known for filing PILs in several courts on prominent issues; he made headlines after he defended the accused in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case.