Article 370 and 35Aof the constitution of India: The burning issue in the valley.
On 5th August 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah moved a resolution to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A in the Rajya Sabha, and also reorganize the state with Jammu and Kashmir serving as one of the union territories and Ladakh region separated out as a separate union territory. The rumours were triggered by reports of Centre deploying additional paramilitary troops to address the likely fallout from the removal of the controversial articles. The government has, however, said that these are precautionary measures in view of terrorist threats. Meanwhile, various political leaders including former Chief Ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been placed under house arrest. Mobile internet services have also been barred.
What are Articles 370 and Article 35A?
Article 370 of the constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ granting special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The six special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir are the following:
- It exempted the State from the complete applicability of the Constitution of India. The State was allowed to have its own Constitution.
- Central legislative powers over the State were limited, at the time of the framing, to the three subjects of defence, foreign affairs and communications.
- Other constitutional powers of the Central Government could be extended to the State only with the concurrence of the State Government.
- The ‘concurrence’ was only provisional. It had to be ratified by the State’s Constituent Assembly.
- The State Government’s authority to give ‘concurrence’ lasted only until the State Constituent Assembly was convened. Once the State Constituent Assembly finalised the scheme of powers and dispersed, no further extension of powers was possible.
- Article 370 could be abrogated or amended only upon the recommendation of the State’s Constituent Assembly.
According to this article, except for defence, foreign affairs finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir. Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. It can declare an emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Union government can therefore not declare emergency on grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger unless it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the state government
What is Article 35A?
Article 35A confers special rights and privileges upon the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and prohibits people from outside the state from buying/purchasing any immovable property in the state. The article authorises the state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of J&K and provide them with notable benefits exclusive only to them.
Meanwhile, Article 35A proscribes non-permanent residents from permanently settling in the state, buying immovable property, acquiring land, applying for government jobs, any kind of scholarships and aids and other public welfare projects.
Why is it a burning issue? Will this bring more violence in the valley?
This development has triggered panic and among locals and leaders across the nation. It is a move that will have massive repercussions will go down in the history books as one of the biggest changes ever made to the Indian constitution. Home minister Amit shah today made a decision to scrap the Article 270 and repeal Article 35A and to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories-Jammu and Kashmir which will have legislature and Ladakh will be without a legislature.
All Kashmir valley based parties, including the National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement (J&KPM) and others are opposed to any tinkering with Articles 35A and 370 that give a special status to J&K. The Congress party also wants these articles to be protected.
Mehbooba Mufti has warned the Centre against the revocation of Article 35A, saying any tinkering with the constitutional provision would be akin to setting a powder keg on fire. Mufti asked her party workers to get ready for a big fight for the protection of Article 35A, which gives special rights and privileges to the state’s permanent residents.
Mufti said they would fight till death any attempt to tinker with the state’s special status.
Will this development change the fate of the Kashmir Valley? Only time will decide.