Supreme Court refuses to refer pleas to larger bench on Article 370

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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to refer the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 that gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir to a larger bench.

The petitions were filed by NGO People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association and an intervenor against the constitutional validity of the Centre’s August 5, 2019 decision and sought to refer the matter to a larger bench.

The petitioners have sought reference to a larger bench on the ground that two judgments of the top court – Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1959 and Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1970 – which dealt with the issue of Article 370 are in direct conflict with each other and therefore the current bench of five judges could not hear the issue.

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However, the court stated that there was no direct conflict of opinion between two judgments about the nature and extent of Article 370 and hence no larger bench is required.

On August 5 last year, the Centre had abrogated Article 370 of the Jammu and Kashmir through a resolution in the Parliament and bifurcated it into two union territories – J&K with Legislation and Ladakh without it. At least 23 petitions were filed in the top court challenging this decision.

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