Article 370 case: Jammu & Kashmir Retained Autonomy, It Signed IoA To ‘Shake Hands’ With India, Not To Embrace It Fully: Zaffar Shah To Supreme Court

On the fifth day of the Indian Supreme Court’s hearing in the batch of petitions challenging the dilution of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, Senior Advocate Zaffar Shah, appearing for the J&K High Court Bar Association argued that the State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) had retained some constitutional autonomy as it had signed an Instrument of Accession (IoA) and not a merger agreement.

The Constitution Bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai, and Surya Kant was hearing the matter.

Senior Advocate Shah commenced his arguments by underlining the autonomous nature of the erstwhile state of J&K. He did so by taking the bench through the history of J&K’s accession with India and the subsequent formation of the Constitution of J&K.
He first highlighted that the Maharaja of J&K did not hand over his entire sovereignty to the Dominion of India and instead kept with himself certain powers, including the power to make laws except those relating to foreign affairs, communication, and defense.

As per Shah, this residual power of the Maharaja came to be subsumed by Article 370, which envisioned that it would be entirely for the people of J&K to integrate with India.

He argued that J&K had not signed a merger agreement with the Dominion of India like the other states, instead, it had signed the IoA to “shake hands” with India but not “embrace it” entirely.

This was followed by the submissions of Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan who, in his limited time, highlighted that India was the most diverse nation in the world and this diversity was reflected in the Indian Constitution. He urged the court to honour the historic promises made to the people of J&K. Senior Advocate Dhavan will resume his arguments on August 16, 2023.

Source : Live Law

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