The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned an argument made by petitioners that Article 370 ceased to operate in 1957 as soon as the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution came into existence.

Appearing before a Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud in the challenge to the abrogation of Article 370, senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, for a petitioner, said the Indian Constitution ceased to apply to J&K, and the State Constitution became the governing document.

“You are saying once the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir came into existence in 1957, Article 370 ceased to exist and only governing document became the Constitution of J&K. So which are the features of 370 which ceased to exist?” Chief Justice Chandrachud questioned the senior counsel.

Dwivedi referred to the Constituent Assembly debates to support his submissions.

“Can we say a statement made by a distinguished member of Parliament will become a binding commitment of a nation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir? This will have implications in interpreting the constitutional provision,” Chief Justice Chandrachud observed orally.

Justice SK Kaul, on the Bench, asked whether Dwivedi, by referring to the Constituent Assembly debates, was arguing that Article 370 had dissolved itself.

Dwivedi said Constituent Assembly debates revealed the intention of the framers of the Constitution.

“So, according to you, the net consequence will be application of Constitution of India will be frozen to J&K after 1957. How can this be permitted? If J&K is an integral part of India, then surely there has to be provisions in the Constitution which applies to J&K,” the Bench said.

After Dwivedi completed his submissions, senior advocate CU Singh argued about the illegality of the J&K Reorganisation Act.

He said that to convert a State into a Union Territory, a constitutional amendment is needed under Article 368 which needs two-third ratification.

“There is no other way to do it,” Singh submitted.