Kashmir’s sovereignty was ceded completely to India with its accession: Supreme Court

Kashmir’s sovereignty was ceded completely to India with its accession: Supreme Court

Top judge’s remarks come as court hears petitions on validity of abrogation of Article 370

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) - India’s Supreme Court said Thursday that Jammu and Kashmir’s sovereignty was ceded completely to the country after the state’s accession in 1947.

Chief Justice Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud’s remarks came as the country’s top court hears petitions challenging legislation that stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and special status on Aug. 5, 2019, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

“One thing is very clear -- that there was no conditional integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India,” Chandrachud said in his oral observation as the hearing of the case was going on before the constitutional bench.

“The surrender of sovereignty was absolutely complete. Once sovereignty was absolutely vested in India, the only restraint was on the power of Parliament to enact laws (in respect of the state),” he noted.

“We cannot read the post Article 370 Constitution as a document which retains some element of sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir,” he stressed.

Following the independence of India and Pakistan from British rule in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir’s Hindu king, Maharaja Hari Singh, agreed to accede to India that year.

The bench also said that Schedule 1 of the Indian Constitution contains "the list of states and union territories and their extent and territorial jurisdiction, and Jammu and Kashmir figures there in the list."

Senior Advocate Zaffar Shah, appearing on behalf of one of the petitioners, maintained there is no power vested in the federal government or in India’s president "to make any laws for the erstwhile state."

He also noted that the special status was accorded to Jammu and Kashmir because there “was no merger agreement and the state’s autonomy had to be maintained.”

During the hearing, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul observed that the “real issue” is whether the process adopted by the federal government for abrogating Article 370 was permissible or not.

"To say that Article 370 is permanent is really difficult. Suppose the state itself says that we want all laws (prevailing elsewhere in the country) to apply. Then where does Article 370 go? Then we really come back to the main question of process (where Parliament can repeal Article 370). Was this process permissible or not?" Justice Kaul asked Shah, according to the PTI.

On Aug. 5, 2019, India repealed the special status under Article 370 of its Constitution, which allowed Jammu and Kashmir its own Constitution, flag and two-house legislature that could frame its own laws.

Article 35A was also scrapped, which had allowed the region to define its residents and barred outsiders from buying properties or taking up government jobs.

Meanwhile, the state was divided into two centrally ruled union territories, now called Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

The Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is claimed by both Pakistan and India in full, but each administers only part of it.

Islamabad says New Delhi's 2019 move is illegal and has since downgraded diplomatic ties and halted trade.

The hearing of the petitions filed by several individuals, groups and political parties will resume on Tuesday.

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