Protests against demanding the scrapping of Article 35A by the Supreme Court, have intensified in Kashmir. About 200 members of the Jammu and Kashmir Trade Union staged a peaceful protest in Parimpora area.
When was the law introduced?
Article 35A was introduced in 1954 by the way of a Constitutional Order by the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Nehru government. To make any changes to the constitution or add a new law, the process prescribed by the constitution is to introduce the bill in the Parliament. However under Article 370(1) (d) the President is allowed make exceptions and modifications with the concurrence of the government of the state for the benefit of the subjects of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
What is the origin of the law?
There was a protest by the Kashmiri Pandits against the appointment of people from Punjab in the state’s administration due to this Maharaja Hari Singh introduced a law in 1927, granting permanent citizens certain privileges. Post-independence Nehru had signed the 1952 Delhi Agreement with the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah. The Delhi Agreement granted citizens of J&K citizenship under certain agreements between the centre and the state.
What does Article 35A entail?
Article 35A gives the J&K government the right to decide who qualifies as a ‘permanent resident’. The permanent resident is subject to some special rights. Only permanent residents can acquire land, settle, and get government jobs, scholarships in the state. The article also says none of the above laws can be held as void on the ground that it takes away the rights conferred on other citizens of the country.
Current case being heard by the apex court
A writ petition was filed by the NGO, 'We the Citizens' in 2014 demanding the scrapping of Article 35A. Another petition was filed by Charu Wali Khanna claiming that there is gender discrimination in Article 35A.
What is the government’s stand?
The NDA led government has refused to stand by Article 35A. The Attorney General said that the matter is sensitive and required a larger debate. The former chief ministers of J&K Mehbooba Mufti and Farooq Abdullah have warned against the tampering of the law. Mufti even went as far to say that if Article 35A is struck down there will be no one to hold the tricolor in the state.
Have there been cases against this law earlier?
The Supreme Court has struck down three cases, demanding the scrapping of Article 35A, which claimed that it can only be introduced through the process prescribed by Article 368 i.e. by introducing the bill in the parliament. In the 1961 judgement, the court said that the word modification should be given the widest meaning in the context of the constitution.(With inputs from PTI)