The Union Government informed the Supreme Court on Thursday, 31 August, that it is fully prepared to hold elections in Jammu & Kashmir "any time now" and added that the decision lies with both the Union Territory and Central election commissions.
The government stated that the ongoing task of updating the voters' list is currently in its final stages and can be considered as being "substantially" completed.
Context: The apex court has been hearing pleas challenging the abrogation of Article 370. Today is the 13th day.
The case is being heard by a five-judge Constitution bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud.
Why Centre Said This: The centre's statement comes in response to the top court's questions on Tuesday, 29 August, about a time frame and road map to restore statehood for Jammu and Kashmir.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court on Tuesday that the current status of Jammu and Kashmir as union territories was temporary and cited Home Minister Amit Shah's remarks in Parliament stating the same.
"How impermanent is this? When are you going to have elections?" CJI Chandrachud reportedly enquired.
"We understand that these are matters of national security...the preservation of nation itself is the overriding concern. But without putting you in a bind, you and AG may seek instructions on the highest level – is there a time frame in view?" the chief justice reportedly asked.
"Equally, restoration of democracy is important," he asserted.
Know more: Here are the centre's full statements made on Thursday, 31 August, on elections in J&K, according to LiveLaw.
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "There are three elections which are due. For the first time, the three tier panchayat raj system is introduced. First elections would be for panchayats. District development council elections have already taken place."
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "Then there would be municipality elections and then there would be legislative assembly elections. It is a UT with legislature- except law and order and police they have..."
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "The terrorist initiated instances are reduced by 45.2%. I'm comparing 2018 situation with 2023 situation. Infiltration reduced by 90.2%."
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "Law and order events- stone pelting etc reduced by 97.2%. These figures are all relevant for purpose of when to hold the elections. Security person casualty is reduced by 65.9%. These are factors agencies would take into consideration."
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "What affected the elections most was stone pelting and regular calls of bandh and hartals- hospitals, schools, every institution a common man is concerned with."
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "In 2018, the stone pelting was 1767. It is nil (now), not just because of effective policing and security personnel but because of various steps such as gainfully employing youth etc. They were misled by secessionist forces."
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "Those actions (to restore statehood of J&K) are initiated. I may give some instances how it is progressing to become a state. Because I'm unable to give exact (details)."
SG Tushar Mehta on centre's behalf: "So far as statehood is concerned, I've already made a statement but that apart, the statement of Home Minister on floor of parliament - UT is a temporary thing, we're dealing with an extremely extraordinary situation."
(With inputs from LiveLaw)