New Delhi, February 28: A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Justice N.V. Ramana, will on March 2 pronounce its order on a plea to refer to a larger bench the petitions challenging the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The bench had heard arguments and reserved its verdict on whether there was a “direct conflict” of opinion between two judgments — one of 1959 and the other of 1970 — about the nature and extent of Article 370.

The Presidents’ notification of August 5 abrogated the special status by blunting Article 370, the source of the privileges accorded to the erstwhile State in accordance with the assurances made in the Instrument of Accession signed between the Jammu and Kashmir ruler and the Government of India.  

However, the two judgments, both by five-judge benches of the Supreme Court, had given contradictory views on Article 370. 

The 1959 one, Prem Nath Kaul versus State of Jammu and Kashmir, had indicated that Article 370 was applicable only till the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution was enacted on January 26, 1957. Thereafter, no further changes could be made to the relationship between India and Jammu and Kashmir.

But the judgment delivered in 1970, Sampath Prakash versus State of Jammu and Kashmir, ignored the 1959 verdict and concluded that Article 370 was permanent and a “perennial source of power” for the Centre to govern its relationship with Jammu and Kashmir.

Senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, seconded by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, had argued that Justice Ramana’s Bench was the third five-judge bench examining a case concerning the use of Article 370. They had urged that the petitions be referred to a larger Bench.

The Constitution Bench had asked pertinent questions, including who was the “competent authority” to bring the extinct Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir back to life.

The Constituent Assembly had ceased to exist in January 1957, with the coming of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. Before it disbanded, the Constituent Assembly did not take a decision in favour of abrogation of Article 370.

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