Relevance of Article 35A

Published - August 15, 2017 11:42 pm IST

Though Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti is perfectly entitled to her opinion that Article 35A should be retained in the best interests of her State and the country as a whole, her remark, “any attempt to tinker with it ... and India will not get a shoulder to carry its national flag in J&K”, is in bad taste (“Centre likely to differ with J&K on Art. 35A”, August 15). Article 35A was drafted to safeguard the distinctive identity of the State. And in the present circumstances, it may be necessary to continue the ‘status quo’ as long as the people of that State want it. The Supreme Court is already hearing a Public Interest Litigation on the constitutional validity of the Article. Issues such as Article 35A militating against Article 14 need to be debated. The process of discussion, dialogue and debate can eventually lead to convergence.

Raghavan Sampath,


The accepted petition against the constitutionality of Articles 35A and 370 throws open many questions, the primary one being whether the Supreme Court is competent to decide on the constitutionality of a constitutional provision. The second one stems from the attitude of the Union Government, led by the BJP. Ordinarily, it is the duty of the state to argue in favour of the constitutionality of any impugned provision. It was not unexpected, however, when the Attorney General suggested that we should have a larger debate on Article 35A. Does this mean that apart from Article 368 which deals with the power and procedure of amending the Constitution (a tardy process), the government has found a shorter way to get it done? Although presumption of constitutionality is a principle of law, it might perhaps function differently when the might of the state is against a law. Another question that arises is whether there would be a different result if the Union Government is led by a party which believes in Articles 370 and 35A. Before looking into the constitutionality of the Articles, the Supreme Court has to consider all these questions.

Arnab Roy,


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