Security Breach in Parliament: Is this aimed at diverting attention from Supreme Court’s verdict on Article 370?

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Syed Khalique Ahmed

NEW DELHI—Was the December 13 attack inside Parliament, within three days of the Supreme Court delivering its verdict on Article 370, intended to divert attention from some serious issues?

The statements of five accused persons given to the police in which they said they blasted smoke canisters inside the Lok Sabha to draw the attention of the government towards issues like unemployment, inflation and Manipur violence neither seem to be credible nor even plausible.

Is somebody required to enter the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha with smoke canisters and jump from the visitor’s gallery to the benches where MPs are sitting, simply to bring to the government’s attention the severe state of unemployment and inflation? Even a political novice or an apprentice will not believe it.

In the past, we have observed that efforts were always made to distract attention from serious issues whenever the present government faced an uncomfortable situation likely to tarnish its image in the eyes of national and international audiences, attracted severe criticism from political rivals, or got bad publicity from the media.

Political analysts believe that the attack inside the Parliament House orchestrated by some individuals was intended to deflect attention from certain important issues that could have given bad publicity to the government and tarnished its image nationally and globally.

A serious discussion had begun in political and legal circles when the Supreme Court on December 11 justified the abrogation of Article 370 that gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The J&K issue attracted international headlines when the BJP government abrogated Article 370 in August 2019 and downgraded the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories – Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir – instead of going for a fresh election to form a new government when the Mehbooba Mufti government collapsed after BJP withdrew its support to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Many commentators and legal luminaries aired their views on the verdict saying that the Supreme Court had allowed an unconstitutional action of the central government to go on perpetually by upholding the central government’s action of abrogating Article 370 that gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the only Muslim-majority state in the country. Senior advocate to the Supreme Court Fali S. Nariman, in an article in The Indian Express on December 18 said the Supreme Court’s verdict on Article 370 violated the Constitutional and federal principles.

Speaking at a function in Mumbai, Retired Supreme Court judge Rohinton F. Nariman remarked that the Supreme Court’s verdict upholding the abrogation of Article 370 is a “very, very disturbing situation”.  

He said that the Supreme Court has decided merely on the assurance of Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta who submitted that the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir would be restored soon and elections in the state would be held.

Justice Rohinton questioned the central government about the need to divide the state into two union territories when the President’s Rule was already in the state.

“You (Modi government) were already administering it from the Centre. Why did you need this(to divide into two UTs)?”, he asked.

He himself answered the question. He said, “You(Centre) needed this because you (Centre) wished to bypass very very important Article, that is, Article 356(5) which essentially deals with circumstances in which there is a constitutional breakdown in the state and the Centre takes over.”

However, he said there are two conditions under which Article 356(5) can be used. “One of the most important conditions being as to time”, he said, meaning the period for which the 356(5) can be used. He replied, “In no circumstances, can we go beyond one year which is given in Article 356(5).”

And the second important condition is that “You should have the national emergency and the Election Commission should say that elections are not possible in the state. But neither of these situations was there in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“So, how do you bypass it by the ingenious method of making the state into two union Territories where you have direct control and no problem as to time. So, essentially what has happened is that this could have continued until the Supreme Court decided the matter. In fact, it took four years for the SC to decide the matter. It was in 2019 that the state was declared as two UTs and the decision has just come. And elections, hopefully, are to be held by September next year. So, we have had no democratic government for five years in the state which could have continued indefinitely,” Justice Rohinton said in a very scathing remark.

“This is a very, very, very disturbing situation,” he commented.

Justice Rohinton said that the Supreme Court did not decide the question by saying that

“We (Supreme Court) accept the assurances of the General of India that statehood will follow very shortly and that elections will be held,” meaning that statehood would be restored and elections would also be held.

However, Justice Rohinton said that “Solicitor General does not have the authority to bind any successor government to this assurance. He also does not have the authority whatsoever to bind the legislature (to his assurance). But this (decision) is going to be a legislative act. So, to say we won’t decide makes no effect. You (Supreme Court) have already decided.”

“You (Supreme Court) have allowed an unconstitutional act to go forward for an indefinite period of time. And you are skirting Article 356(5). These are very disturbing things,” he commented.

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