FPJ Editorial: Restore Political Process In J&K

FPJ Editorial: Restore Political Process In J&K

There is no better way to restore peace than by involving the common people in the political process.

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Wednesday, December 13, 2023, 12:28 AM IST
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J&K 370 | Representative image

The Supreme Court verdict on the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution has only academic value, as four years have passed since the cataclysmic event. It took several months to deliver the verdict after the hearing was completed. This was enough to gauge the importance it assigned to the case. The delay did not affect the government, which was able to carry on with its plans. The verdict marks a victory for the central government, as it has substantiated its contention. Incidentally, on all crucial issues, the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, has been taking the line of least resistance. True, the government has been given enough time to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir. On no grounds can it complain, as can be inferred from the article Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in many newspapers including this one. Nonetheless, the saying “Justice delayed is justice denied” cannot be forgotten.

While it can be contended that the BJP merely fulfilled the promise it has been making to abrogate Article 370 in successive elections, on no grounds could it justify the vivisection of the state into two Union Territories. There was no pressing need or justification to do so. Yet, that is what happened, surprising even ruling party leaders. Since the Constitution Bench is the ultimate authority to pronounce on this subject, there is no scope even for an appeal. The only appeal that can be made is for a larger Bench to consider the issue afresh, for which those opposed to the verdict will have to present compelling reasons. Having said this, it must be mentioned that Article 370 had, over the decades, lost much of its validity. The Centre had acquired powers that earlier vested in the state. The abrogation, therefore, did not make much difference to Centre-state relations.

What’s even more unacceptable is the division of the state, which needs to be undone. Elections cannot be kept in abeyance for long. The importance of the restoration of the political process in the erstwhile J&K state cannot be overemphasised. There are claims that militancy has ended, whereas the fact is that militants have started adopting new strategies. There is no better way to restore peace than by involving the common people in the political process — in other words, by holding democratic elections as early as possible, as advised by the apex court.

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