New Delhi, December 7:
The J&K government Friday sought adjournment of the case in Supreme Court challenging the validity of the sensitive Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act of 1982. The Act envisages grant of permit for resettlement of Pakistani nationals who had migrated to Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir between 1947 and 1954 after India’s partition. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S K Kaul was told by advocate Shoeb Alam, appearing for the state government, that permission should be granted for circulation of the letter for adjournment of the case.
The bench granted the permission. The petitioner, Jammu and Kashmir National Panther Party (JKNPP) had yesterday mentioned the matter for urgent hearing saying that it has been pending for long and needs to be decided.
The top court had on August 16, 2016 indicated that it may refer the matter to a constitution bench if it finds that some issues needed interpretation of the Constitution. The court had said that it will hear the matter and if during the course of proceedings it is found that no constitutional issue is involved, then it will pass an order.
JKNPP had earlier told the court that a division bench in 2008 had issued direction to list the case before a constitution bench but the Chief Justice in the same year had over-ruled the decision and ordered the matter to be listed before a three judge bench. It had said that people of Jammu and Kashmir who migrated to Pakistan from 1947 could be considered for their return but their descendants could not be. The party had said that the law passed by the Assembly was draconian, unconstitutional and improper which threatened the security of the state. JKNPP through Harsh Dev Singh, a then MLA, had challenged the Act passed by the J&K Assembly in 1982.
In 1982, the Act was first challenged by Singh before the apex court and then Governor B K Nehru had refused to sign the Bill and sent it back to the Assembly. Later Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then President of newly constituted BJP, had also filed a petition before the apex court seeking intervention. The matter was considered by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in 2001 on a presidential reference. The apex court returned the reference to President with a three-word pronouncement: ‘Returned, respectfully, unanswered’.
JKNPP through its then MLA Harsh Dev Singh in 2001 had filed a writ petition in the apex court seeking quashing of the Resettlement Act. The top court while admitting the plea had ordered for stay of operation of the Act and in 2008, the matter was referred to the constitution bench on the plea that the subject relates to the interpretation of the Constitution of India.