Srinagar: A 63-year-old file containing legal opinion on Article 35A has vanished from North Block’s high-security vaults at a time the provision, which grants special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, faces a legal challenge to its constitutionality.
Kolkatta based The Telegraph reported on Sunday that the 1954 file contained the then attorney-general’s opinion justifying the insertion of Article 35A into the Constitution that year through a presidential order rather than a constitutional amendment.
The Supreme Court is now hearing a petition by a Sangh-backed NGO that has sought the scrapping of the article, which bars outsiders from acquiring land or jobs in Jammu and Kashmir, on the ground that it was introduced without Parliament’s approval.
“Our employees are frantically searching for the file, which is crucial to the case as we have to convey our stand in the Supreme Court at the next hearing on August 29,” a senior Union home ministry official told the newspaper.
He said the file had disappeared from the ministry’s legal and administrative records section, perhaps during the ministry’s Swachh Bharat campaign between June 22 and 26 in 2015 when it weeded out hundreds of old files.
“All section officers had undertaken the drive, which was meant to get rid of the old and less-important documents,” the official added.