India’s Supreme Court has asked the Narendra Modi-led government if there was a “timeframe” and a “roadmap of progression” to restore the special status of held Kashmir, Indian media outlets reported on Tuesday.
The remarks were passed by a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud during a hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the reading down of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which bestowed special status on India-held Jammu and Kashmir.
The move allowed people from the rest of the country to have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris, international organisations and critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government had termed the move an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.
During the hearing, the CJI asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta: “We understand that these are matters of national security… the preservation of the nation itself is the overriding concern. But without putting you in a bind, you and the attorney general may seek instructions on the highest level— is there a timeframe in view? Is there a roadmap?”
According to the publication, Mehta is representing the Indian government and the administration of held Kashmir.
In his arguments, Mehta touched on the reorganisation of states and told the bench about decisions taken with regard to held Kashmir in the aftermath of the Article 370 changes.
“As we see the creation of UTs, you have on one hand, examples like Chandigarh, carved out of Punjab and remained a UT. Then you have a progression where certain areas become UTs… you can’t immediately make them states,” The Indian Express quoted the CJI as saying.
Justice Chandrachud also asked if the Indian parliament should not be permitted to convert a state into a union territory for a limited period of time in view of national security needs.
“Why was it not possible for the union to say that right now in the case of a state, we have such an extreme situation in terms of national security, that we want for a certain period that a UT should be created? But this is not permanent and this shall be back as a state… can a union not do that for a certain period, to bring stability? Because let’s face it, whether it’s a state or UT, all of us survive if a nation survives.