NEW DELHI The Supreme Court of India (SCI) on Saturday ordered to constitute a five-member bench for hearing of several petitions against unilateral abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution by the Modi-led Hindu nationalist government, stripping special autonomy of the disputed region.
According to media reports, the bench will begin the hearing on October 1.
On September 16, the SCI had ordered the Indian government to restore normalcy in occupied Kashmir “as soon as possible while keeping in mind national safety and security.”
“Schools, hospitals, public transport should function properly,” said the ruling of a three-member bench of India’s top court.
The court had ordered the government to submit a report mentioning actual situation in the region that has been lockdown for more than 55 days with communications blackout, internet and telephone services suspended.
During the hearing of petitions, CJI Ranjan Gogoi had remarked that if “requirement arises”, he would himself visit Jammu and Kashmir. He had also expressed concerns over reports of inaccessibility of Kashmiris to the Kashmir High Court.
Besides, senior Congress party member Ghulam Nabi Azad had been permitted by the court for visiting the disputed Himalayan region.
SCI had issued notice on a plea filed by Azad, who had sought permission to visit Jammu and Kashmir, and interact with people there. The apex court allowed him to visit four districts in Kashmir: Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramullah and Jammu.
Azad, who had tried to visit the state twice after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions in Jammu and Kashmir, was sent back from the airport by the authorities.
The ruling had come as the SCI took up multiple pleas against Indian parliament’s passing of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 – that contains provisions to reconstitute the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, one to be eponymously called Jammu and Kashmir, and the other Ladakh. The act will come into effect on 31 October 2019.