The Supreme Court on August 6 has adjourned the hearing on the constitutionality of article 35-A. Ever since the debate over the article 35-A has come into the picture, the political groups and members of the civil society in the Kashmir have started protesting against the attempts being made to challenge and dilute this provision enshrined in the constitution.
What is article 35-A?
Article 35-A of the Indian constitution gives the exclusive right to the state to decide who will be the permanent resident of the J&K. It also confers special rights and privileges on the permanent residents of the state in public sector jobs, acquisition of property and other public welfare and aid services.
As per this article, none of the steps taken by the state legislature coming under its ambit can be challenged on grounds of violating the constitution. This article was incorporated in 1954 by then President of India Dr Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Nehru Cabinet.
When did the debate around the constitutionality of article 35-A start?
In 2014, a Delhi based NGO named “We The Citizens” filed a petition against the constitutional validity of article 35-A and article 370 by citing the reasons that such provisions are against the very idea of “Oneness of India”.
They argue that such provisions are against the fundamental rights of Indian citizens enshrined in article 14, 19 and 21 of Indian constitution. A few more petitions have been filed for the same reason since the first petition filed by the Delhi based NGO.
Why has it caused the controversy?
Ever since the debate over the scrapping of article 35 has emerged, it has divided the public opinion. The political leaders of Jammu Kashmir view the hearing on this matter in Supreme Court as an attempt to take away the special rights conferred upon the citizens of J&K.
The advocates of this article argue that scrapping article 35-A will undermine the basic structure of the constitution which will create unrest and chaos in the state.
Former Chief Minister of the state Mehbooba Mufti has stated that the uncertainty over the status of article 35-A has unleashed the wave of anxiety and panic amongst the people of J&K.
The topper of UPSC CSE 2009 batch, Dr Shah Fiasel, has even stated that the scrapping of the article 35-A would be like a divorce.