SC refuses to expedite challenge against taking back of partition migrants from Pakistan

The Supreme Court has refused the request for an early listing of a petition that questions permitting descendants of people who migrated to Pakistan to come back to India.

The petition seeks the quashing of the Jammu and Kashmir Rehabilitation Act of 1981 that would give the right of return to anyone who moved to Pakistan at the time of the partition of India. The right to return extends to their descendants as well.

“According to the mathematical calculation at that time this Law if implemented would bring about five lacs Pakistani citizens to J&K in 1981,” said Bhim Singh, a prominent politician from the state and the founder of the National Panthers Party.

“It would have brought more than 100,000 Pakistani trained soldiers to J&K under the excuse of J&K Rehabilitation Law,” he said.

The law was passed by the J&K Assembly when Sheikh Abdullah was the Chief Minister. “..the mission as was stated by the then Chief Minister, Sheikh Abdullah himself (was) to ensure return of about 500,000 Pakistani citizens,” said Bhim Singh, who was the only MLA to oppose the bill on the floor of the house.

In 1984, the Indian government, headed by Indira Gandhi, referred the legislation to President of India Gyani Zail Singh, and its implementation was blocked.

At the same time, the Supreme Court was also asked for its opinion on the matter.

“This matter remained in the dustbin of the Supreme Court of India from 1984 to 2001,” said Bhim Singh.

In 2001, the Supreme Court returned the reference to the government with the three words — ‘Returned, unanswered, respectfully’.

Immediately, the J&K Government, which was now headed by Farooq Abdullah, declared its intention to implement the legislation.

At this stage J&K National Panthers Party moved an urgent writ petition mentioned above before the Supreme Court of India and obtained a stay on its implementation.

In 2008, this petition was referred to the Constitution Bench by the division bench of the Supreme Court.

However, even as late as 2016, the Supreme Court did not assign the case to any bench, prompting Singh to file one more petition last year.

On this petition, a three-member bench said it would hear the matter, instead of a Constitution Bench.

“We have perused the order dated 23.10.2008 by which the Division Bench of this Court had actually referred these matters to the Constitution Bench. However, on the orders of the Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India on the administrative side, these matters have been posted before this Bench.

“This Court, therefore, will take up these matters fro hearing, and if it becomes so necessary, will consider making a reference to the Constitution Bench… List these writ petitions for hearing after four weeks.”

Given further delays, the matter was again brought to the attention of the Chief Justice just before summer vacation this year, said Bhim Singh.

However, this petition, seeking an expedited hearing of the matter, has been denied this morning, Singh said.

Singh said he was “unhappy” at the decision not to expedite the matter.

Singh said he would now file an ‘intervention application’ before the Supreme Court “in the interest of security and safety of the international borders and LoC so that the unwanted and undesirable illegal infiltration shall be stopped forthwith.”