The Valley is on the boil once again and there are protests against demanding the scrapping of Article 35A by the Supreme Court. Jammu and Kashmir separatist groups observe shutdown against petitions challenging Article 35A in SC.
Article 35A and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution have been a sensitive issue for the people of Kashmir.
Both these Articles – 370 and 35A – entered the Constitution in 1954, when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was negotiating the terms with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah who was the prime minister of J&K.
Now, the question is what exactly does Article 35 A entail and how did the case case come to the Supreme Court? Here’s all you need to know.
When was Article 35A introduced?
It was brought in by a presidential order in 1954 in order to safeguard the rights and guarantee the unique identity of the people of Jammu-Kashmir. Only the Jammu-Kashmir assembly can change the definition of PR through a law ratified by a two-thirds majority.
What does Article 35A entail?
Article 35A gives the J&K government the right to decide who qualifies as a ‘permanent resident’. The permanent resident is subject to some special rights. Only permanent residents can acquire land, settle, and get government jobs, scholarships in the state. The article also says none of the above laws can be held as void on the ground that it takes away the rights conferred on other citizens of the country.
Who are permanent residents?
Jammu and Kashmir Assembly defined Permanent Resident as a person who was a state subject on May 14, 1954 or who had been a resident of the state for 10 years and has “lawfully acquired immovable property in the state.”
A person who is not a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir is not allowed to buy or own properties in the state or vote in state Assembly election or contest election to the state Assembly. An outsider cannot get a job in the Jammu and Kashmir government.
Current case being heard by the apex court
A writ petition was filed by the NGO, ‘We the Citizens’ in 2014 demanding the scrapping of Article 35A.
It argues that four representatives from Kashmir were part of the Constituent Assembly involved in the drafting of the Constitution and the State of Jammu and Kashmir was never accorded any special status in the Constitution. Article 370 was only a ‘temporary provision’ to help bring normality in Jammu and Kashmir and strengthen democracy in that State, it contends. The Constitution-makers did not intend Article 370 to be a tool to bring permanent amendments, like Article 35A, in the Constitution.
The petition said Article 35 A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens”. Restricting citizens from other States from getting employment or buying property within Jammu and Kashmir is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
Another petition was filed by Charu Wali Khanna claiming that there is gender discrimination in Article 35A.
The petition challenged Article 35A for protecting certain provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, which restrict the basic right to property if a native woman marries a man not holding a permanent resident certificate. “Her children are denied a permanent resident certificate, thereby considering them illegitimate,”
BJP Extends “Open Invitation” For Debate On Article 35A-
The Jammu and Kashmir unit of the BJP on 4 August 2018 said the party was open to a debate over Article 35A of the Constitution.
Here is what the state BJP chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi told reporters.
The BJP is open to a debate with anyone or any political party on whether or not Article 35A is in the interest of the people of the state. We are extending an open invitation,” He said over the last few days, the political climate in the state has heated up over Article 35A and some political parties, especially those active in Kashmir, have taken an “anti-national and anti-people” stand on the issue.
Targeting the National Conference (NC) and the Congress, Mr Sethi said people in the valley are being misled over Article 35A by being told that it is for their betterment and in the interest of the state.
“The continuation of Article 35A will not have any benefit for the state. The central government has pumped crores of rupees into the state over the last 70 years but the development has not been as it should have been,”
Article 35A has acted as an obstacle in the state’s development because it did not allow outside investment.
“Investors do not come here to set up Infrastructure. The youth are not getting the jobs,”.
The BJP spokesperson alleged some politicians want to maintain the position for vote bank politics.
“The Supreme Court is hearing a batch of petitions in the matter, including the one filed by an RSS-linked NGO ‘We the Citizens’, seeking quashing of the article.”
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Note- Images Used In This Article Are For Representational Purpose Only.