Article 370 regime helped militants, separatists, Centre tells Supreme Court
Defending the nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir, and the subsequent creation of two Union Territories (J&K and Ladakh) from the state, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that the special provisions needed to be removed because they gave rise to militancy and terrorism by creating “separatist mindset among the people”.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court on November 9, the Centre submitted that the government’s move would act as a catalyst that enables the region to achieve its “development potential to the fullest”, and provide people the best possible standard of living in an “atmosphere of amity and tranquillity”.
“Article 370 impeded full integration of the state with the rest of the country and the 370 regime helped militant and separatist elements with the support of foreign forces in sowing secessionist feelings among the populace of the state,” the Centre stated.
“Article 370 prevented the people of Jammu & Kashmir from receiving benefits of evolving legal systems and even the amendments and other laws of the Parliament,” it added.
The affidavit was the first comprehensive response by the Centre on a bunch of petitions to the top court challenging the decisions by the government that were cleared by Parliament on August 5 and 6.
The petitions filed by MPs from the National Conference (NC) and others allege that the Modi government’s decision to changing the status of the state of J&K “irreversibly” without “the concurrence of the people of the state acting through their elected representatives [J&K Assembly]”. They argue that this amounted to “an overnight abrogation of the democratic rights and freedoms guaranteed to the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir upon its accession.”
The petitions in SC term the Centre’s move “unconstitutional”, violative of fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21, and demand the quashing of the presidential orders approving the nullification of Article 370 and the declaration of The Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Act 2019 as void. They also attack the procedure adopted by the Centre in effecting changes in Article 370, saying the governor’s concurrence to alter Article 370 amounts to a constitutional functionary taking his own consent to effect a fundamental structural change, without consultation or concurrence of the persons affected by that change, or their elected representatives.
The Centre’s affidavit, filed in response, asserted that powers were legally exercised by the Centre and the parliament to discontinue Article 370, which was a temporary provision.
The Centre’s response also attacked Article 35-A, a special provision which allowed the J&K state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to permanent residents, on the grounds that it discriminated against Kashmiri women by taking away their property rights if they married non-Kashmiris.“The overall economic development of the state has been hindered on account of these factors. There are no private universities in the state, the growth potential of the state remains largely untapped despite large monetary support from government of India.”
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