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J-K residents ‘first and foremost citizens of India’, says Supreme Court

india Updated: Dec 18, 2016 00:19 IST

The Supreme Court made the observation while terming as “wholly incorrect” the conclusion arrived at by Jammu and Kashmir high court which had held that the state has “absolute sovereign power” to legislate laws touching the rights of its permanent residents regarding their immovable properties.(File photo )

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court has ruled that the state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) has “no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India” and that its residents were “first and foremost citizens of India”.

A bench of justice Kurian Joseph and justice Rohinton Fali Nariman rejected the assertion of the J&K high court that the state’s sovereignty cannot be challenged or altered.

“It is therefore wholly incorrect to describe it as being sovereign in the sense of its residents constituting a separate and distinct class in themselves. The residents of Jammu & Kashmir, we need to remind the high court, are first and foremost citizens of India,” the bench added.

The bench said that the high court that gone out of its way “to refer to a sovereignty which does not exist”.

“It is rather disturbing to note that various parts of the judgment speak of the absolute sovereign power of the state of Jammu & Kashmir,” it said.

It added: “It is necessary to reiterate that Section 3 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, which was framed by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise, makes a ringing declaration that the state of Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. And this provision is beyond the pale of amendment.”

The top court’s verdict came on an appeal by State Bank of India against a high court verdict which had held that the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) would collide with the Transfer of Property Act of Jammu & Kashmir, 1920.

SARFAESI’s provision entitles banks to auction properties to recover loans.