Assembly says no to resolution on JK’s special status

Srinagar: A resolution by opposition National Conference legislator calling for upholding the special status of the state has been disallowed by the J&K legislative assembly, which will be meeting for a brief autumn session from Saturday.
While a similar resolution by independent MLA Er Rashid has already been rejected, sources told Kashmir Reader the speaker has said the resolution submitted by NC’s Davinder Rana will meet the same fate. In the resolution, Rana had asked the state government to take all “legal, political and administrative steps to ensure that Article 35-A, as enshrined in the Constitution of India, is not compromised in the context and form that it exists as of today.”
The Article upholds the unique status of the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir as it prevents non-residents from buying land or property, getting a government job or voting in state assembly elections.
A petition challenging the Article 35A is already pending before the Supreme Court and the state government has been asked to file response to the plea filed by a Delhi-based think-tank believed to be close the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological patron of India’s ruling party, BJP, and other rightwing Hindu organizations.
The Sangh parivar has made the abrogation of Article 370, which gives J&K a special status in the Indian constitution and of which the Article 35A is a corollary, one of the fundamental article of its political ideology.
Soon after the Narendra Modi-led NDA government came into power, RSS official Arun Kumar had said at a function in New Delhi that the “devil lies” in the Article 35A. Similar views were expressed later by Arun Jaitley, the finance minister in Modi’s government.
Jaitley had said that Article 35A infringed the rights of Indian citizens by denying them state subject status in the state of J&K.
Recently, the state high court observed that Article 35A was only a “clarificatory provision” meant to clear the issue of constitutional position obtaining in India in contrast to J&K.
“This provision clears the constitutional relationship between people of the rest of the country and the people of J&K. It is, in essence, information to the citizens of rest of country that on a constitutional and legal plank that they, in all respects, do not constitute a class with citizens of the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the court said and held that citizens of J&K have their own constitution and sovereign character “which cannot be challenged, altered or abridged.”
The high court had made the observations in its landmark judgment in July while ruling that the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act cannot be extended to the state.
In May 1954, the government of India led by Jawahahr Lal Nehru amended the Article 35 of the constitution. Article 35A was added much to the displeasure of the most of the parliamentarians especially from the Right. The new article was enforced in Jammu & Kashmir through the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, May 1954.
Article 35A reads: “Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights: Notwithstanding anything contained in this (Indian) Constitution, no existing law in force in the State of Jammu & Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State – (a) defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be permanent residents of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, or (b) conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects (i) employment under the State Government; (ii) acquisition of immovable property in the State; (iii) settlement in the State; or (iv) right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide, shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part”.