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Ready for J&K elections, can’t give exact timeline for restoring statehood: Centre to SC

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New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it was ready to hold elections any time in Jammu and Kashmir, but could not give an exact timeline for restoring its statehood.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Menta, appearing for the Centre, told the Supreme Court “We are ready for elections at any time in Jammu and Kashmir now”.

SG Mehta, however, said though steps to restore J&K’s statehood were already being implemented gradually, it (the Centre) cannot give an exact time frame for giving back its statehood.

He made the submissions as the SC had on Tuesday asked the Centre whether there was a time frame to restore J&K’s statehood, and if a roadmap for that has been decided.

“The Union Territory status is temporary. We cannot give an exact time frame for restoration of statehood to the J&K UT, but the process of restoring statehood to J&K has already started,” Mehta told the five-judge Constitution bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dr Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud, during the hearing of a batch of pleas challenging the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K.

The SG said the Centre is ready to conduct J&K elections anytime.

He also said the Legislative Assembly election in J&K is likely to be held after the Panchayat, and Municipal polls. He, however, clarified that it is up to the State Election Commission and the Central Election Commission to decide which election should take place first.

On the issue of the suspension of lecturer, Z A Bhat, SG Mehta told the SC that some advice has been given to the J&K administration and that he would seek instructions on the latest development on the issue.

The four other judges of the Constitution bench of the Supreme Court hearing the batch of pleas pertaining to Article 370 are Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Sanjiv Khanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant Kant

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