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The Supreme Court of India has endorsed the government’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution. The five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, declared that Article 370 was initially a temporary provision designed to facilitate the integration of Jammu and Kashmir into India.

Chief Justice Chandrachud emphasized that the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, formed solely to frame the Constitution, was not meant to be a permanent body. Upon merging with India, the assembly ceased to exist, and the special conditions for which Article 370 was introduced also ceased to exist. Despite this, the article continued due to the prevailing situation in the state.

The Supreme Court clarified that Jammu and Kashmir did not possess internal sovereignty distinct from other states in the country. The court underscored the concept of asymmetric federalism, pointing out that various states have special arrangements like Article 371A to 371J, granting them varying degrees of legislative and executive power.

The bench, consisting of Chief Justice Chandrachud, Justice BR Gavai, Justice Surya Kant, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, delivered three separate judgments supporting the scrapping of Article 370.

Article 370 granted Jammu and Kashmir its own Constitution and decision-making authority on all matters except defense, communications, and foreign affairs. The removal of this article terminated the special status of the state. Additionally, the court mentioned that it did not find it necessary to assess the validity of the reorganization of Jammu and Kashmir into a Union Territory, as it was considered a temporary arrangement until the completion of elections and the restoration of statehood.

The Supreme Court’s decision also marks the end of Article 35A, which granted the erstwhile state the power to define its permanent residents and provide them with special rights, including government jobs and property ownership.

As a result of this historic ruling, Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be brought on par with other states, and the court has called for elections in the region by September 30, 2024. This verdict not only shapes the future of Jammu and Kashmir but also carries broader implications for the federal structure of the country.

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