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India’s highest court shouldn’t in theory have a say over Kashmir, and yet it has sided with the Indian government.

Since its genesis in 1948, the Kashmir dispute has remained a contentious issue within the chambers of the UN Security Council. The recent edicts of the Indian Supreme Court – notably, the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories – stand in stark contrast to the global recognition of the region as a disputed territory.

Historically, the Indian judiciary has functioned to sanction the country’s contentious occupation and annexation of Jammu and Kashmir, lacking legitimate authority to arbitrate the region’s legal status. The Narendra Modi government’s maneuvers in Jammu and Kashmir blatantly contravene the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir. These maneuvers encompass the unilateral revocation enacted on August 5, 2019, the establishment of an oppressive lockdown and communication blackout, and a series of human rights violations.

Despite the plethora of United Nations mandates underscoring the Kashmiri right to self-determination, India has persistently dismissed these entitlements and claims. India’s narrative is replete with distortions and fallacies aimed at obscuring its infringements and oppression in Kashmir. The Indian negation of the Kashmiri quest for self-determination has been a catalyst for regional discord. Resolutions from the United Nations, advocating a free and impartial plebiscite in Kashmir under UN supervision, remain the sole pathway for Kashmiris to voice their opinion and shape their destiny.

Amidst global inattention to the Kashmir crisis, India’s posture in South Asia has grown increasingly dominant and belligerent, jeopardizing regional stability. The onus falls upon the United Nations to fulfill its commitments and obligations, including honoring the principle of self-determination and shielding the Kashmiri populace from further injustice and persecution. Despite the adverse and inequitable verdict of the Indian Supreme Court, the resolve of the Kashmiri people in their pursuit of freedom and human dignity remains unshaken.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 47 in 1948, advocating an impartial plebiscite to determine Kashmir’s future, was flagrantly disregarded by India in 2019. India’s actions, stripping Kashmir of its distinctive status and splitting it into two centrally governed regions, were later ratified by the Indian Supreme Court in 2023, overlooking the provocations and aspirations of the Kashmiri populace. Numerous Kashmiri luminaries have condemned the Indian Supreme Court’s discriminatory and unjust decision. Their claims underscore Kashmir as a contested territory, with its inhabitants resolute in their struggle for autonomy.

Time and again, the Indian judiciary has ratified India’s illicit dominion over Jammu and Kashmir. It is not within the Indian Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to determine the legal status of Jammu and Kashmir; rather, it is a matter for United Nations resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The Modi government’s renunciation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019, along with its imposition of further restraints on the freedoms and aspirations of the Kashmiri people, blatantly violates United Nations resolutions and established international norms. India must be held accountable for its transgressions and human rights abuses in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian judiciary’s stance on the Kashmir dispute is at odds with international law and the UN Charter, undermining the democratic rights and future aspirations of the Kashmiri people. This ruling has elicited widespread condemnation from Kashmiri politicians, human rights organizations, and the Pakistani government. A majority of Kashmiris aspire to reject India’s persecution and occupation, envisioning Kashmir as a bulwark of resistance. This verdict not only casts a shadow on India’s repute as the world’s largest democracy, hinting at an authoritarian drift but also escalates the likelihood of a nuclear confrontation between Pakistan and India over Kashmir. The UN’s intervention, through the enforcement of its resolutions on Kashmir and the respect for the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination, may avert such a catastrophe.

Abdul Mussawer Safi is an author at various platforms such as Modern Diplomacy, Kashmir Watch, and Eurasia Review. He is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from National Defense University. He has a profound interest in world politics, especially in the regional dynamics of South Asia. His academic strengths are critical and SWOT analysis.