National

Centre not to file counter-affidavit on Article 35A

The Supreme Court has scheduled further hearing for August 6. File

The Supreme Court has scheduled further hearing for August 6. File  

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PIL plea against provision for J&K

The Centre has decided not to file any “counter-affidavit” on Article 35A, which has been challenged in the Supreme Court through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition.

Article 35A allows the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to decide the “permanent residents” of the State, prohibits a non-State resident from buying property in the State and ensures reservation in employment for residents.

The Supreme Court has scheduled further hearing for August 6.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, had objected to any tinkering with the provision.

Court order

A senior official explained that Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal informed the court last year of the Centre’s decision not to file any counter-affidavit. The Supreme Court gave an order stating the same. The official said the Centre would stick to the order, though it was an interim one.

On July 17, 2017, the court recorded: “Learned Attorney General, representing the Union of India, states that a conscious decision has been taken not to file any counter-affidavit in this case because the issues, which are raised for adjudication, are pure questions of law.”

The State government has filed an affidavit opposing any such move.

 

The official said the case was still being heard as similar petitions were bunched together. “This particular provision was included in the Constitution by a Presidential Order. Our stand is clear: this is a matter of interpretation of law and the Supreme Court should decide. Though the hearing is still on, we will continue to abide by the interim order that a conscious decision has been taken not to file any counter-affidavit,” he said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh is expected to visit Srinagar and Jammu on June 7 and 8. The visit comes amid the Centre’s decision to suspend security operations during the month of Ramzan.

In his last visit to the Valley in September, Mr. Singh was non-committal on the Centre’s stand on filing any affidavit.

Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet in 1954.

Deserted look: During a shutdown against the proposed abrogation of Article 35A, in Srinagar. File

Deserted look: During a shutdown against the proposed abrogation of Article 35A, in Srinagar. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

It grants a special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order followed the 1952 Delhi Agreement between Nehru and the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Sheikh Abdullah, which extended Indian citizenship to the ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir. Ms. Mufti said earlier that any attempt to tinker with Article 35(A) would have repercussions, and “India will not get a shoulder to carry its national flag in Jammu and Kashmir.”

‘Class within class’

The petition, filed by We The Citizens, said Article 35A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens.”

A second petition, filed by Jammu and Kashmir resident Charu Wali Khanna, has 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.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 2:40:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/centre-not-to-file-counter-affidavit-on-article-35a/article24090690.ece

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