Art 370: Omar Regrets Former CJI Retired ‘Without Constituting The Bench’

SRINAGAR: As NV Ramana retired paving for Justice Uday Umesh Lalit as the new Chief Justice of India, Omar Abdullah regretted his failure in keeping the word.

Chief Justice of India, Justice Ramana in a group photograph with LG JK Manoj Sinha and other judges of the Supreme Court and High Court in Srinagar on May 14, 2022. He laid the foundation stone of a new High Court Complex in Srinagar.

“And then he retired without ever constituting the bench. He very conveniently kicked it in to the long grass,” Omar Abdullah, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, said in a tweet. “Some people wonder why faith in these institutions gets eroded. Perhaps it has something to do with the way serious issues are handled.”

On April 25, 2022, when senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for one of the petitioners in a number of cases related to the abrogation of Article 370 had pleaded before the bench seeking the case’s listing for hearing in wake of the delimitation exercise, Justice Ramana had said a special bench will be constituted after the vacations.

“This is a five-judge matter. I will have to reconstitute the bench,” Justice Ramana was quoted as having said to the senior advocate. “Let me see…after vacation.”

In 2019, when Article 370 was read down, there were around two dozen petitions challenging it. All these petitions were referred to a constitution bench headed by NV Ramana, who later became the Chief Justice. The bench headed by Justice Ramana had Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, R Subhash Reddy, BR Gavai and Surya Kant as members. Justice Subhash Reddy retired in January 2022.

After the petitions were filed, the earrings began in December 2019, “almost 4 months after the notifications issued by the Centre in August 2019.” The petitions were not listed since March 2, 2020.

It is interesting to mention that since August 2019, Justice Uday Umesh Lalit is the fourth Chief Justice. Justice Ranjan Gogoi retired on November 17, 2019. Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde retire on April 23, 2021, and Justice N V Ramana completed his term on August 26, 2022, paving way for incumbent Justice Uday Umesh Lalit’s takeover.

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