Article 370 created separatist mindset: Centre

The presence of Article 370 in the Constitution for over seven decades created a “separatist mindset” in the Kashmiri people, the Centre told the Supreme Court.

The 61-page counter-affidavit of the Union Home Ministry in the Supreme Court said Article 370 was “replaced” on August 5 to “fully integrate” the “erstwhile” State of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country.

A temporary provision like Article 370 was in the interest of neither the nation nor Jammu and Kashmir, the government argued.

“The militants and separatist elements, with the support of foreign forces inimical to India, were taking advantage of the situation… the residents of the erstwhile State were denied benefits of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all other citizens of the country,” the government said.

The Ministry was replying to 34 separate petitions filed by persons from various walks of life. They have challenged the dilution of the special status under Article 370, which was the source of special rights and privileges accorded to Kashmiris under Article 35A, and the subsequent bifurcation of the State into Union Territories.

A Constitution Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana is scheduled to start hearing the petitions this week.

The government claimed that Article 35A itself was ambiguous and a “serious obstacle” to the socio-economic development in J&K. “It prevented investments in the State, impacted job creation… the women of the erstwhile State were discriminated against if they chose to marry a non-permanent resident”.

The decision to end the Article 370 regime would save lives in J&K, the affidavit said. “Since 1990 to till August 4, 2019, a total of 41,861 persons lost their lives in 70,960 incidents of terrorist violence. This includes 14,035 civilians; 5,291 personnel of security forces and 22,535 terrorists”.

The government said 2019 was not the first time Article 370 was used on itself in order to extend benefits to J&K. It has been done over 54 times since the first Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order was notified by the President in 1954.

The government also rejected the contention that Article 370 was scrapped without the prior concurrence of the J&K Assembly.

The ministry explained that J&K was under the President’s rule in August. The Legislative Assembly was suspended. The Parliament had taken over the role of the Assembly. The resolution to replace Article 370 and to apply the entire Constitution to J&K was placed in the Parliament. Both Houses had recommended positive action. Following which, the President had issued the notification.

Similarly, the Parliament had passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill of 2019. The President’s assent had followed on August 9. The Act was operational since October 31.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 1:29:47 PM |

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