Former Judge On Jammu And Kashmir

Justice Deepak Gupta said, “The issue was taking away of Article 370. Why should it hang fire?”

Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Deepak Gupta, today said several matters pending in the top court, including the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir, need urgent decision. Asked about the key cases pending in the court for long, Justice Gupta said the Supreme Court has two roles.

“One is the adjudicator of disputes, which it does very well. But it is also a protector of human rights of citizens. In my opinion, they lagged behind a little bit,” he said in an exclusive interview with NDTV.

As a case in point, he cited Jammu and Kashmir. “The issue was taking away of Article 370. Why should it hang fire? It is a small issue so far as it is legally concerned. But one way or another, once it is decided, it will settle what is happening in Kashmir,” he said.

The other big issue regarding Jammu and Kashmir, he said, “is whether a full-fledged state can be bifurcated into two union territories”.

“You take away the right of statehood from a state. We have a concept almost of dual sovereignty. The Union is sovereign and the state is sovereign. That is why we have different lists in the constitution — the union list, state list and the concurrent list. Does the Union have the right to denude a state and turn it into a Union Territory? That’s a very important question and it needs to be decided,” he said.

The Centre’s move in 2019 to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, granted under the Constitution’s Article 370, and bifurcate it, has been challenged in the Supreme Court in a bunch of petitions. Many petitioners have argued that this indicates that it can be done to any state.

The Centre has argued that sovereignty of Jammu and Kashmir was temporary and the important thing is the “consolidation of the country”.

The court has deferred the decision on whether to send the case — currently being heard by a five-judge constitution bench — to a seven-judge bench. The Centre is opposed to it.

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