SC to hear plea on Article 35A: All about law that grants special rights to J-K
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra will take up petitions seeking repeal of Article 35(A), a law that guarantees special privileges to the restive state of Jammu and Kashmir.india Updated: Oct 30, 2017 12:12 IST
The Supreme Court will hear a petition on Monday seeking repeal of Article 35A of the Constitution, which grants special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir.
The petition in the case has been filed by a Delhi-based NGO, We the Citizens, saying the state’s autonomous status granted by Article 35(A) and Article 370 of the Constitution discriminates against fellow citizens from the rest of the country.
What is Article 35A?
Article 35A gives special rights to the Jammu and Kashmir’s permanent residents. It disallows people from outside the state from buying or owning immovable property there, settle permanently, or avail themselves of state-sponsored scholarship schemes. It also forbids the J-K government from hiring people who are non-permanent residents.
Article 35A was added to Article 370 by a Presidential order in 1954.
Article 370 of the Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A empowers the state legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges.
What is the controversy?
The provision in Article 35A that grants special rights and privileges to permanent citizens appears in the Constitution as an “appendix”, and not as an amendment.
According to the NGO, Article 35A should be held “unconstitutional” as the President could not have “amended the Constitution” by way of the 1954 order, and that it was only supposed to be a “temporary provision”. The Article was never presented before Parliament, and came into effect immediately.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has contested the petition, saying the President had the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an order. However, India’s attorney general KK Venugopal told the court in July that the Centre won’t file an affidavit but wanted a larger debate on the “very sensitive” matter.
Kashmiri separatist leaders warned on Sunday of widespread protests if SC delivers a verdict “against the interests and aspiration of people of state”.
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti warned in July there would be “nobody in the state to hold the Tricolour” if the rights and privileges of its residents were tinkered with. In September, Union home minister Rajnath Singh had allayed fears and promised that the government will not go against the wishes of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. But Singh was non-committal about the Centre filing a counter-affidavit in the Supreme Court to defend contentious Article.