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Top Indian court begins hearing on IIOJK special status


India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday began hearing petitions challenging the Indian government’s 2019 decision of scrapping the special status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

A constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud began hearing arguments in the case nearly four years after the decision was first issued on August 5, 2019.

Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal started the arguments for the petitioners in the morning, legal Indian news portal Live Law reported.

Last month, the court set Aug. 2 as the starting date for day-to-day hearings of the petitions and ordered the parties to file all documents, compilations, and written submissions by July 27.

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the government had defended its decision by claiming that its “historic constitutional step” had brought “unprecedented development, progress, security and stability” to Jammu and Kashmir.

But the court emphasized that this affidavit had “no bearing” on the “constitutional issues which are raised in the petitions.”

Also read: Indian SC to hold daily hearings on pleas against removal of IIOJK special status

On Aug. 5, 2019, India repealed Article 370 of its Constitution, which allowed Jammu and Kashmir its own constitution, flag, and two-house legislature that could frame its own laws.

Another piece of legislation that day scrapped Article 35A, which had allowed the region to define its residents and barred outsiders from buying properties or taking up government jobs.

Previously a single state, Jammu and Kashmir was downgraded and divided into two centrally ruled union territories called Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. This drew sharp reactions from both Pakistan, which claims the region in full, and China, which claims parts of Ladakh and controlled a sizable part of the entire Jammu and Kashmir before the formation of India and Pakistan in 1947.

Collectively, several individuals, groups, and political parties filed nearly 20 petitions at the apex court, calling the decision illegal and unconstitutional.

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