October 17, 1949: Special status is born
Article 370 was incorporated in the Indian Constitution when it was adopted on January 26, 1950. Its genesis however was as Article 306 in the draft Constitution. It included the preconditions laid down by the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh.
Discussions on the article were initiated by N Gopalaswami Ayyangar during the Constituent assembly debate on October 17, 1949 – the day Article 306 was adopted. Ayyangar was the chief drafter of the article and presented during the debate the need for the special status for J&K even as at least one member -- Maulana Hasrat Mohani -- questioned the move and asked, ‘why this discrimination’?.
Excerpts from Ayyangar’s submissions:
“The discrimination is due to the special conditions of Kashmir. That particular State is not yet ripe for this kind of integration. There was a cease-fire agreed to at the beginning of this year and that cease-fire is still on. But the conditions in the State are still unusual and abnormal…
“It is therefore necessary that the administration of the State should be geared to these unusual conditions until normal life is restored as in the case of the other States...
“We are entangled with the United Nations in regard to Jammu and Kashmir and it is not possible to say now when we shall be free from this entanglement. That can take place only when the Kashmir problem is satisfactorily settled.
“…the Government of India have committed themselves to the people of Kashmir in certain respects… that an opportunity would be given to the people of the State to decide for themselves whether they will remain with the Republic [of India] or wish to go out of it.”
The Baroda comparison
Constituent assembly member Mohani pressed Ayyangar on why such “concessions” were not given to other state. “…if the Maharaja of Kashmir gets further powers and concessions I will be very glad. But what I object to is this: Why do you make this discrimination about this Ruler?”
“When you make all these concessions for Kashmir I most strongly object to your arbitrary act of compelling the Baroda State to be merged in Bombay... It is scandalous that you should compel the Maharaja of Baroda to have his raj merged in Bombay and himself pensioned off…”
To this, Rajendra Prasad, replied: “Maulana, we are not concerned with the maharaja of Baroda here.”
The Article was later adopted.