India Supreme Court asserts their judicial review is limited to constitutional violations in Article 370 case News
© JURIST / Neelabh Bist
India Supreme Court asserts their judicial review is limited to constitutional violations in Article 370 case

The Supreme Court of India emphasized on Thursday the importance of confining their judicial review to constitutional transgressions during the seventh day of hearings in a case involving the elimination of Article 370 from India’s Constitution. The five-judge bench underscored the need to avoid probing the intentions of the federal government in examining Article 370, a provision that previously conferred special status to the states of Jammu and Kashmir. The federal government previously repealed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, which granted them regional autonomy, in 2019 in an attempt to settle land disputes over the region between India and Pakistan.

Outside the court, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah expressed optimism and remarked, “Two judgments by the Supreme Court have been given in favour of Article 370. We are hopeful justice will be done with people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.” But on August 10, the court reiterated their pronouncement, finding that the 1947 surrender of Jammu and Kashmir’s sovereignty to India was unequivocal. The court’s statements cast doubts upon the reinstatement of Article 370.

Jammu and Kashmir previously made up a princely state in northern India, which operated with self-governance, an autonomous constitution, distinctive flag and legislative prerogatives. The princely state had control over its citizens’ permanent residency, property ownership and fundamental rights. The federal government, however, retained control over the princely state’s foreign affairs, defense and communications. Kashmir aligned with India during the 1947 partition of India, making it the only Muslim-majority region to do so.

In their 2019 electoral manifesto, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) consistently opposed Article 370 and advocated for its removal. Their rationale was that abrogating Article 370 would integrate Kashmir into India’s broader governmental framework. After winning a massive electoral victory in the 2019 elections, the BJP-controlled government acted to repeal Article 370 through both a bill in Parliament and a presidential order. The moves encountered resistance from local political bodies and community organizations in Kashmir. Kashmiri residents objected to the federal government’s takeover, citing repression, escalating costs, heightened unemployment and a crackdown on press freedom.

The court is still scheduled to hear another 15 petitions regarding Article 370. The next hearing is scheduled for August 22.