India's top court upholds end of Kashmir's special status

Journalists are seen outside the premises of the Indian Supreme Court in New Delhi. (Photo/Reuters)

India's Supreme Court has upheld a 2019 decision by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to revoke special status for the state of Jammu and Kashmir and set a deadline of September 30 next year for state polls to be held.

India's only Muslim-majority region, Jammu and Kashmir has been at the heart of more than 75 years of animosity with neighbouring Pakistan since the birth of the two nations in 1947 at independence from colonial rule by Britain.

The unanimous order by a panel of five judges came on Monday in response to more than a dozen petitions challenging the revocation and a subsequent decision to split the region into two federally administered territories.

It sets the stage for elections in the region, which was more closely integrated with India after the government's contentious move, taken in line with a key longstanding promise of Modi's nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The decision is a shot in the arm for the government ahead of general elections due by May.

The challengers maintained that only the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir could decide on the special status of the scenic mountain region, and contested whether parliament had the power to revoke it.

The court said special status was a temporary constitutional provision that could be revoked by parliament. It also ordered that the federal territory should return to being a state at the earliest opportunity.

The territory is divided among India, which rules the populous Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region of Jammu, Pakistan, which controls a wedge of territory in the west, and China, which holds a thinly populated high-altitude area in the north.

Pakistan rejects ruling

Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded to the Indian Supreme Court's verdict on Jammu & Kashmir, saying Islamabad "categorically rejects the judgement."

Pointing out that Jammu and Kashmir "is an internationally-recognised dispute, which remains on the agenda of the UN Security Council for over seven decades," the ministry emphasises that "India has no right to make unilateral decisions on the status of this disputed territory against the will of the Kashmiri people and Pakistan."

Dismissing the alleged "supremacy of the Indian Constitution" presumed by New Delhi over the disputed territory, Pakistan says "[India's] plans to annex [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK)] are bound to fail."

The Pakistani statement notes that Islamabad will "continue to extend its full political, diplomatic and moral support to the people of IIOHK for realisation of their unalienable right to self-determination."


Source: TRT