Landmark Showdown: India's Top Court Takes on Challenge to Kashmir's Special Status Revocation
Landmark Showdown: India's Top Court Takes on Challenge to Kashmir's Special Status Revocation

New Delhi: The 2019 government decision that stripped the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir of its statehood and special autonomous status is being contested, according to India's top court, which began hearing arguments on Wednesday.

From August 5, 2018, when the Indian government unilaterally revoked the relevant provisions and abolished Jammu and Kashmir's flag, legislature, safeguards for land ownership, and fundamental rights, the region had semi-autonomous status granted by the Indian constitution.

The Supreme Court's constitutional bench's hearings on petitions filed over the previous four years to contest that action began on Wednesday.

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A Kashmiri politician and one of the petitioners, Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, stated, "We have approached the Supreme Court with this belief that whatever the Indian government has done is unconstitutional, not taking into consultation stakeholders of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (is) violating the constitutional order itself."

"We are expecting that the honourable court would restore the constitution and democracy itself to that part of the world that has been delinked from the democratic spirit of the country," the petitioner said. "We hope that the court will deliver justice and put the constitution in order and whatever constitutional rights have been decimated, abrogated will be restored."


The larger Kashmiri territory, which includes the Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir, has been the focus of an international dispute ever since the Indian subcontinent was split in 1947 into Pakistan, which has a Muslim majority, and India, which has a Hindu majority.

Both nations fully and partially control Kashmir.

For many years, the Indian-controlled region of Kashmir has experienced bursts of separatist insurgency to challenge New Delhi's authority.

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A total communications blackout, severe travel restrictions, and the detention of local leaders—some of whom are still in jail—followed the constitutional change that divided Jammu and Kashmir into two federally-governed union territories.

Administrative changes made after the special status and statehood were abolished have made it possible for non-natives to settle and vote in the area, raising concerns about attempts to engineer demographic change.

Some of the petitioners who appealed to the Supreme Court, including retired Indian Air Force officer Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, think that the changes could still be overturned by the nation's highest constitutional bench.

"I do believe that petitioners have a very strong constitutional case," Kak said to Arab News. "I do have full faith in the objectivity, impartiality, sense of justice and fair play of the honourable Supreme Court of India."


"If it is looked at (in) a) fair and just manner, we will receive our due in ensuring that the unconstitutional act which was promulgated under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act in August 2019 will be undone."

However, not everyone is upbeat.

Subhash Chandra Gupta, a lawyer in Jammu, viewed the Supreme Court's decision to hear the petitions as a "futile exercise" because it came too late.

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"Due to the judiciary's own constraints, what has been bulldozed cannot be rebuilt. If the Supreme Court had heard the petitions just a few weeks after the changes were made, there might have been hope, he added.

"The government has now intervened so heavily in that area. Restoring things to how they were before would be problematic.

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