regarding the case filed in the Delhi High Court on Article 370
Even as the state Law Department has announced that it will fight the petition filed in the Delhi High Court challenging Article 370, the BJP, which is part of the coalition regime, has expressed ignorance about any such decision taken by the government.
“I am not aware of any such decision by the government to fight the petition in the Delhi High Court,” said Minister of State for Law Ajay Nanda, who belongs to the BJP. “There is no question of the Law Department taking such an important decision without consulting the BJP.”
Quoting Law Secretary Abdul Majid, local media yesterday reported that the government had sought a copy of the petition from the Delhi High Court to fight the case with clarity. “We have to thoroughly examine the petition filed in the Delhi High Court so that we will be in a better position to counter the claim,” the Law Secretary was quoted as saying in local reports.
The Delhi High Court on Monday had agreed to hear a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutional validity of Article 370 that gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The PIL, which challenges the Constitution Order, 1954, that adds a proviso to Article 368 of the Constitution, was listed for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal. The bench said it would take up the matter for further hearing on January 2 after the winter vacation.
Not showing much enthusiasm for contesting the petition, the Minister of State for Law said both coalition partners would sit together and discuss every aspect of the PIL before taking a final decision on fighting it. “Without thoroughly going through the PIL, how can we say that the J&K Government can become a party to fight it,” said Nanda, who himself is an advocate.
After the Supreme Court’s historic verdict on the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, Kashmir-centric parties and other separatist groups have already stepped up attack on the PDP for allegedly diluting the state’s special status. And now the Delhi High Court has admitted a PIL challenging Article 370.
The Supreme Court in its verdict had observed, “It is clear that the state of Jammu and Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India… they (residents of state) are governed first by the Constitution of India and also by the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.”
The BJP has hailed the Supreme Court’s verdict as historic.
The statement of BJP spokesperson Virendra Gupta provides an indication of the party’s stand on Article 370. “Because of Article 370, growth and development of the state has been hampered and it has only benefited the ruling elite of the Kashmir valley. The masses, particular of the Jammu region, have become victim of the secessionist and parochial designs of the ruling elite,” Gupta said.
Highly placed sources in the BJP said Gupta’s statement was part of the party’s strategy to send out a message to its coalition partner that it was against fighting the PIL in the Delhi High Court.
The BJP has decided to mount pressure on its coalition partner not to become a party in the PIL. The abrogation of Article 370 is at the core of the BJP’s ideology, though the party had shelved this demand to share power with the PDP.
Despite repeated attempts, Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan, who belongs to the PDP, was not available for comments.