National

SC to take ‘in-chamber’ decision on pleas against Article 35A

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will be taking an “in-chamber” decision on the listing of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

The oral observation came from a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi in response to an oral mentioning for early hearing of the petitions.

Violates Statute

In August last year, the court indicated that it would consider the question of whether Article 35A was violative of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.

However, at that time, the Centre and J&K government had sought an adjournment on the ground that an interlocutor was carrying on dialogues with the State’s stakeholders.

The special status was bestowed on Jammu and Kashmir by incorporating Article 35A in the Constitution. Article 35A was incorporated by an order of President Rajendra Prasad in 1954 on the advice of the Nehru Cabinet. Parliament was not consulted when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Constitution through a Presidential Order issued under Article 370. Article 368 (i) of the Constitution mandates that only the Parliament can amend the Constitution by introducing a new article.

Article 35A gives the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature a carte blanche to decide the ‘permanent residents’ of the State and grant them special rights and privileges in State public sector jobs, acquisition of property within the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare programmes. The provision mandates that no act of the State legislature coming under the ambit of Article 35A can be challenged for violating the Indian Constitution or any other law of the land.

The three-judge Bench will decide whether or not to refer the issue to the Constitution Bench. One of the main writ petitions has been filed by the NGO, We the Citizens, which challenges the validity of both Article 35A and Article 370. 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 normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir and strengthen democracy in that State. 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 35A was against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it created a “class within a class of Indian citizens”. It said 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 Indian Constitution.


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 19, 2022 1:30:48 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-to-take-in-chamber-decision-on-pleas-against-article-35a/article26063938.ece