The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A of that is applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The provision empowers the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir to define permanent residents of the state and provide certain rights to them.
The move came after both the Centre and the state government sought an adjournment on the ground that preparations were underway for local body polls in the state. The Centre had earlier informed the court that it had appointed an interlocutor who had initiated talks on the issue.
Adjourning the matter till 27 August, an SC bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the matter was to be decided by a three-Judge bench but Justice DY Chandrachud who was to be part of it was not present.
The run-up to the SC hearing saw several organisations call a two-day strike in Jammu and Kashmir to oppose any move to change the provisions.
This prompted the state government to suspend the Amarnath Yatra and pilgrims were not allowed to depart from Jammu to Srinagar. Those who had already reached the Pahalgam and Baltal base camps were, however, allowed to proceed towards the shrine.
What Is Article 35A?
Article 35A is a provision of the Constitution that provides special rights to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and prevents people from outside the state from buying or owning immovable property there.
It does not allow these people to settle permanently in Jammu and Kashmir, avail of scholarships and other forms of state aid, or be employed by the state government.
Article 35A was included in the Indian Constitution as a Presidential Order known as The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954. This was done under the provisions of Article 370 that covers Jammu and Kashmir.
Who Is Opposing It And Why?
An NGO, We The Citizens, challenged this provision’s legality, maintaining that it was added as part of a Presidential Order and was never presented before Parliament. The particular provision was not an amendment and appeared as an appendix in the Indian Constitution, the organisation pointed out.
A few other petitions that made a similar argument were subsequently clubbed with this main petition.
Along with citizen’s groups in Jammu and Kashmir, separatist organisations like the Hurriyat have also been campaigning against any dilution of this provision, saying that it would harm the interests of permanent residents of the state.