NEW STORM IN KASHMIR – ARTICLE 35 A

What is Article 35 A?

What is it’s political and demographical significance to the people of Kashmir?
The answer to these questions and the pros and cons of its termination from our Constitution are matters of grave concern to all citizens of India.
Article 35 A is a provision in the C onstitution of India that empowers the J&K Legislature to define permanent residents of the state. It was added through the Constitution ( Application to Jammu and Kashmir)

Order – 1954, issued under Article 370.

The J&K Constitution which was ad opted on November 17, 1954, defines a permanent Resident as a person who was a state subject on May 14,1954 or who has been a resident of the state for 10 years and has “lawfully acquired immovable property in the state” The J&K Legislature can alter the definition of PR only through a law passed by a two third majority in Assembly.
It’s interesting to note here that the present PR Law rep licates a state subject law promulgated by Dogra King Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 following a strong campaign by Kashmiri Pandits, who were opposed to the hiring of civil servants from Punjab because it affected their representation and monopoly in the Kashmir
administration.

Is This Article Controversial ?

In 2014, the “We the Citizens” NGO filed a writ petition seeking striking down of Article 35 A. While the
J&K government filed a counter- affidavit and sought dismissal of the petition , the Central Government did not do so, despite pleas from the state government, especially its ally PDP.
On July 17, Attorney General KK Venugopal has told the bench of them Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud that the petition raised constitutional issues, after which the court referred the matter to a three- judge bench and set six weeks for final disposal. The Centre refused to take a stand on the issue with the
AG telling the Court that the question was “very sensitive” and required a “larger debate”.
The Union Government’s decision to abstain from supporting the J&K State government’s position, has been seen by some as part of a series of moves by it to weaken J&K’s special status. The Hindutva parties of India
are opposed to Article 35A because it bars non- state subjects from settling and buying properties in J&K. The
state Law Minister Abdul Haq Khan along with state Advocate General Jahangir Ganai have been camping in New Delhi, given the sensitivity of the case.
On 29 Oct 2017, separatist leaders Syed A li Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammed Yasin Malik issued a joint statement urging the people of Kashmir to launch a “ mass agitation” if the Supreme Court cleared repeal of Article 35 A. “ A conspiracy has been hatched to change the demography of the Muslimmajority
state….Any move to tinker with a state subject law will create a Palestine – like Situation “.the statement screamed.
The present challen ge to Article 35 A in the Supreme Court is based on the ground that it could have been
introduced in the Constitution only through a constitutional amendment under Article 368 and not through a
Presidential Order under Article 370.However this is an argument that the Supreme Court has rejected on at
least three occasions earlier.
Is Article 35 A an apology to our fundamental rights as a citizen of India?
A major section of the Indians believe that ‘ Article 35 A is a blot on our “ Fundamental Right as citizens of the largest democracy of the world, ie; Freedom to own Property and Freedom of Movement”, enshrined in the
Constitution of India. They feel that many clauses in Article 370 are also contradicting with the “Fundamental Rights of an Indian”. The demand for a “Uniform Civil Code “ is an off- shoot of these arguments.
However, many secular political parties in India support Article 370 and Article 35A. They believe that any amendment to the existing constitutional ‘special status’ bestowed on J&K, will further alienate the already
disgruntled Kashmiris from India. Such a move may strengthen the separatists and Jihadis to wage a war against the Union of India for independence.
Conclusion
New debates are raging over the ‘special status of J&K’. Main opposition parties of our parliament now opined that the Government may consider “ Autonomy to J&K”, which our PM Modi has vehemently rejected. The nation is anxiously waiting for the Supreme Court verdict. If the verdict is in favour for the repealing of Article
35 A , it could unleash fresh violence and protect in Kashmir. It’s wise to remember- always the victims of
such turmoil are innocent gullible common people of Kashmir and security personnel, not the perpetrators of mischief.

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