February 2008 News

Court extends stay on J&K Resettlement Act

20 February 2008
The Hindu

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the stay on implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir Resettlement Act, 1982, providing for resettlement of all those who migrated from the State to Pakistan after March 1947 if they returned to settle down there permanently. A Bench comprising Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal accepted the submission by Anis Suhrawardy, counsel for the State government, that continuance of the stay would help to ensure peace in the region. It posted the case for further hearing in July. The court earlier stayed the Act on two writ petitions filed by Panthers Party president Bhim Singh, and another challenging its constitutional validity. On Wednesday, the State counsel said the stay should be extended in the larger public interest. “If the Act is struck down, there will be internal disturbance in the State and if the Act is upheld there will be external disturbance.” Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Panthers Party, said the Act would be misused by militants and terrorists to settle down here permanently and they could even claim political rights. The party contended that the State’s move to implement the Act threatened the country’s unity and integrity, as any person who had migrated to Pakistan after Partition could return and settle down here as a matter of legal right. “The implementation of the Act could bring more than 20,00,00 Pakistanis, including descendants of those who were born in Pakistan and many trained under the Taliban, with fraudulent certificates, as descendants of anyone can settle down anywhere in India and the consequences are obvious.”

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