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J&K resettlement law: SC hints referring it to larger bench

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J&K resettlement law SC hints referring it to larger benchAgency
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it may refer to a constitution bench a plea challenging the validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act if it finds that some issues needed interpretation of the Constitution.
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 headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said 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.
The bench, which also comprised Justices Prafulla C Pant and A M Khanwilkar, made the observation after it was informed that the earlier bench hearing the matter had referred it to a five judge constitution bench.
Jammu and Kashmir National Panther Party(JKNPP) president and senior advocate Bhim Singh said the matter should be heard finally by the Court.
He informed 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.
Singh 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.
He said the law passed by the Assembly was draconian, unconstitutional and improper which threatened the security of the state.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing after six weeks.
JKNPP through Harsh Dev Singh, a then MLA, had challenged the Act passed by the J&K Assembly in 1981.
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 back to President with a three-word pronouncement: ‘Returned, respectfully, unanswered’
JKNPP through its then MLA Harsh Dev Singh in 2001 filed a writ petition in the apex court seeking quashing of the Resettlement Act.
The Supreme 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.

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