Brexit-like referendum on Article 370 is out of question: Supreme Court [9.8.2023]

A Brexit-like referendum on the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir is out of the question, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.

Brexit refers to the process by which the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union (EU) with the support of 52 per cent of voters in a referendum conducted in 2016. Britain officially left the bloc in January 2020.

A five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud is hearing over 20 petitions contesting the Modi government's decisions to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status and split the erstwhile state into two Union Territories in 2019.

On Tuesday, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal said that the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted Jammu and Kashmir special status, was a political act like Brexit.

"In Brexit, there was no constitutional provision seeking a referendum," Sibal argued. "But, when you want to sever a relationship which has been entered into, you must ultimately seek the opinion of the people because people are at the centre of this decision not the Union of India," he added.

Chief Justice Chandrachud, on the other hand, said that India is a constitutional democracy in which the will of its people can only be assessed through established institutions. "You cannot, therefore, envisage a situation like a Brexit-type referendum," he said.

09 Aug 2023