A three-judge bench of Supreme Court on Monday will announce its verdict on the constitutional validity of Article 35A which has been challenged by several petitioners including Delhi-based NGO We the Citizens. The article which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been a matter of great debate in the past with many demanding its abolishment on the grounds that it violates the basic character of Indian Constitution which grants equality to all the citizens of the country irrespective of their caste, creed, and religion.
What is Article 35A?
Article 35A relates to special rights and privileges of J&K residents and was added to the Constitution in 1954 through a Presidential Order with the concurrence of state government. Under this, the legislature of Jammu and Kashmir is entitled to define ‘permanent residents’ of the state and their special right and privileges with respect to public sector jobs, welfare schemes, acquisition of property etc. No act of legislature coming under its purview can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law for that matter.
Why is the constitutional validity of Article35A being debated?
The article has been challenged by four petitioners in the apex court including Delhi-based NGO We the Citizens. The petitioners argue that the article was not added into Indian Constitution through an amendment, which is usually the standard procedure. The petitions further mention that the article was never presented before the Parliament for approval and came into effect immediately.
What is Kashmiri separatists’ take on Article 35A?
Kashmiri separatists are against the dilution of Article 35A as it grants greater autonomy to the state. The biggest fear among separatists is that if the article is abolished, the Hindus might come to the state in large numbers leading to a major demographic change in the Muslim majority Valley.