Srinagar, Feb 13: The National Conference on Monday said it is not “heartbroken” over the Supreme Court dismissing a petition challenging the delimitation process in Jammu and Kashmir, but was sure of a victory in the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre.
The Jammu and Kashmir of Congress, however, said it was disappointed with the verdict.
The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the government’s decision to constitute the delimitation commission for redrawing the legislative assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
A bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka delivered the verdict on a plea filed by two Kashmir residents.
While pronouncing the verdict, Justice Oka said nothing in this judgement shall be construed as giving an imprimatur to the exercise of power under clauses one and three of Article 370 of the Constitution.
“We are not heartbroken with this. We are sure, whenever the Supreme Court hears our petition on abrogation of Article 370, we have enough ammunition in our arsenal that will tilt the case in our favour because we are not asking for anything outside the Constitution of India,” National Conference spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said.
He said the stand taken by the party on Article 370 was “part and parcel of the Constitution of India”.
“So, there is nothing we are seeking that is not within the purview of the Constitution.”
Dar said the apex court judges have put a rider while dismissing the petition.
“I think the Justice has made a comment where they had put a rider on the verdict. And the rider is that there is a petition already lying in the Supreme Court regarding J-K Reorganisation Act. They have referred to that petition, they might club the whole thing with that petition which is actually challenging the parent act,” he said.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said it was immaterial when legal challenges to abrogation of Article 370 and Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act were pending before the apex court.
“We have rejected the delimitation commission from the outset. It does not matter to us what the verdict is,” Mehbooba told reporters here, 41 km from Srinagar.
The Jammu and Kashmir of Congress expressed disappointment on the Supreme Court’s verdict, saying the people of J-K are feeling “betrayed everyday”.
J-K Pradesh Congress spokesperson Jahanzaib Sirwal alleged that the delimitation exercise was undertaken to benefit the BJP.
“People of this country have always had great respect and belief in the judiciary but after BJP’s coming to power, people are losing trust in the prestigious institutions. The people in J-K are feeling betrayed everyday,” Sirwal said.
He said the people were looking with great hope towards the apex court for the positive outcome of the plea, which was against the delimitation process carried out in an “undemocratic and unconstitutional” manner.
The Congress spokesperson said the whole exercise of delimitation commission was merely an “eye wash” as the suggestions given by all parties were “outrightly rejected”.
“The only purpose of this exercise was to ensure electoral gains for the BJP. We did not support the delimitation process when it was formed and we are against this even today,” he said.
Reacting to the top court’s verdict, Awami National Conference (ANC) vice president Muzaffar Shah said there was “nothing new as we expected it”.
“I can only say, unfortunately, this delimitation matter was not agitated by major political parties here,” Shah said.
He said he is hopeful that the petitions about Articles 370 and 35-A “will be a different ball game”.
It has added to the long list of disappointments for the people of J&K, CPI(M) leader MY Tarigami said.
“There is nothing much to say about the Supreme Court decision on delimitation other than that it is another disappointment for the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” Tarigami, who is also a spokesperson for the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration, said.
Carrying out the delimitation process under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act is unacceptable, he said.
“It is just delimitation in the name of delimitation. They have virtually disrupted the unity of people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Tarigami said there were a bunch of petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and the Reorganisation Act before the Supreme Court but those were not being heard.
“I had moved an application for early hearing of those petitions… the previous Chief Justice of India had said the petitions would be listed after Dussehra, the incumbent Chief Justice of India said the hearing would be done after the vacations.
“There was little hope after these assurances but even these have not matured and only resulted in disappointments,” he added.