India's Supreme Court has asked the federal government to indicate if there is a time frame to restore the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a full-fledged state.
The remarks by the top court came as it heard petitions challenging legislation that stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its statehood and special status on August 5, 2019.
"...We are conscious of the fact that these are matters of national security... the preservation of nation itself is the overriding concern. But without putting you in a bind, you (solicitor general) and AG (attorney general) may seek instructions on the highest level - is there some time frame in view?" Chief Justice DY Chandrachud asked on Tuesday.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta referred to the 2019 Indian government statement in parliament stating the "Union territory (of Jammu and Kashmir) is not the permanent feature".
Mehta also told the bench on Tuesday after the lunch break: "The instructions are that UT (union territory) is not a permanent feature. But, I will make a positive statement the day after tomorrow...."
India repealed the special status of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, stripping it of its flag and legislature. Before August 5 2019, Jammu and Kashmir had its own constitution, flag, and two-house assembly that could make its own laws.
The Indian government also scrapped another legislation, Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which empowered the Jammu and Kashmir government to define its residents and barred all outsiders from owning properties or taking government jobs, raising fears that more than 12 million original residents, nearly 28 percent of them Hindus, would be reduced into a minority by outsiders.
It said the special status was responsible for “separatism” – the popular anti-India insurgency is now nearly 33 years old – and was responsible for the economic backwardness of the region.
The Himalayan state was divided into two centrally ruled union territories, now called Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is claimed by both Pakistan and India.
Islamabad says New Delhi's 2019 move is illegal and has since downgraded diplomatic ties and halted trade.