New Delhi, March 2: A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Monday ruled out referring to a larger bench of seven judges the matter of the constitutional validity of the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir. 

The order implies that the five-judge bench of the top court, which is testing the constitutional validity of the abrogation of Article 370, will continue hearing the matter.

The order came on a batch of pleas by NGO People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association and an intervenor who sought that the matter is referred to a larger bench. 

The petitioner argued that two previous judgments of the apex court — Prem Nath Kaul versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1959 and Sampat Prakash versus Jammu and Kashmir in 1970 — dealing with the issue of Article 370 stood in direct contradiction to each other and contended that the current five-judge bench could not hear the issue.

The Centre, on the other hand, had argued that the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 had become a “fait accompli” leaving the sole option to accept the change. Appearing for the Centre, Attorney General KK Venugopal had argued that there was no relation between the two earlier judgments as they dealt with different issues.

Accepting the Centre’s contention, the Supreme Court Monday held that there was no contradiction between the two judgments and the five-judge bench of the court will continue to hear the matter. No date has been fixed by the court for the commencement of the hearing. The five judges on the bench include Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, B R Gavai and Surya Kant. The bench is led by Justice NV Ramana.

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