GoI argues hearing will impact interlocutor’s job; statement seen as admission of political nature of the case
Srinagar: Supreme Court of India on Monday deferred the hearing on Article 35A by three months after Government of India (GoI) sought an adjournment for six months.
The GoI cited the appointment of an interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir for defering the case and argued that court’s hearings could impact the initiative. The argument was seen in Srinagar as a public admission on part of New Delhi that a political issue had been wrapped in a legal one.
“When Attorney General seeks adjournment of the case for 6 months because an interlocutor has been sent to Kashmir, it is a public admission that the case challenging 35 A isn’t legal/constitutional but purely a political issue,” prominent journalist, Muzamil Jaleel, wrote on his Facebook wall.
Although political parties on either side of the ideological divide in Kashmir are opposed to any move that weakens Article 35A, pro-freedom camp has avoided a joint platform to fight any possible scrapping. In an interview, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told Kashmir Reader that he suspects deep political designs behind the move.
“The issue will hang on our head as a sword, and that is what New Delhi wants,” Mirwaiz said. He believes that the article will not be scrapped, but will be used to achieve certain political goals in Kashmir. One of them is to “create political space and acceptance for pro-India political parties” in Kashmir. “The space has constantly eroded since 2008,” he said.
National Conference Legislator Agha Ruhullah said that New Delhi, by invoking the appointment of interlocutor in Supreme Court, have accepted the Article 35A “is a political issue.
Petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A are heard by a Supreme Court bench. We the Citizens, a Delhi-based NGO close to RSS, in its petition, argued that Article 35A goes against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens”. Another petition, filed by lawyer Charu Wali Khanna, claims that Article 35A discriminates against women’s right to property.
The NGO argues that the article was ‘illegally’ added to the Constitution of India as it was never proposed before the Indian Parliament. Two other petitions were also filed challenging the Article and all were later clubbed together.
While the first petitions was filed in 2014, the issue took centre stage after Supreme Court indicated that a five-judge constitution bench may ascertain if Article 35A is ultra vires of the Constitution or if there is any procedural lapse. The article relates to special rights and privileges of the citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir. The Article empowers the Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents, while article 370 gives special status to the state of J&K in the Indian Union.
Added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, article 35A accords empowers J&K’s legislature to frame a law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from Indian states.
Women leaders raise one voice against petitions
As the Supreme Court on Monday set a new date for Article 35-A case hearings, Kashmir Reader talked to women leaders from both pro-freedom and pro-India parties to seek their viewpoints on the matter. Opponents of the Article 35A consider the state subject law ‘discriminatory’ to Kashmiri women; here’s what the Valley’s leaders have to say.
Zamrooda Habib (Hurriyat)
It is a concern to all of us citizens of J&K, from Gilgit Baltistan to Lakhanpur. We are resisting the entire occupation.
Personally, it doesn’t affect me. Everything belongs to India, be it judiciary, parliament, executive. They are using these institutions against us.
However, on Article 35-A, all the parties are involved.
It is an attempt to change the demography, but the basic fight of the resistance camp is for the resolution of the J&K issue and the demilitarisation of entire J&K.
These are off-shoots of the basic problem as GoI wants to divert attention from the main issue.
People from different parts of India are already living in Jammu and have got Aadhaar cards and in the past have even got state subjects. It is a conspiracy of RSS since 1947 to dilute the main issue.
But we need to be concerned beyond this article, how to invite political leadership from all regions of J&K – Ladakh, Kashmir, Jammu, “Azad” Kashmir, GB – so as to resolve Kashmir.
Aesiya Naqash (PDP)
As a Kashmiri, I am here for the protection of the Article 35-A. It is our party view as well. Being citizens of J&K, we have to protect our Constitution, and Article 35-A has to remain there.
There are sufficient laws for the protection for every subject of J&K. It is not right to link Article 35-A with the right of marriage. It is a constitutional right through which we have a relation with the rest of India.
Shameema Firdous (NC)
First, let us be clear that it is not possible to remove Article 35-A from the Indian constitution because it is directly connected to Article 370.
But they (the GoI) want to take everything from Kashmir. We will never allow it to happen.
Like Triple Talaq, they are using our women folk against our basic rights and special law. When they fail, they use the judiciary.
But we will have to safeguard the rights of our women.
Being a special law, [Article 35-A] gives protection to Article 370, but if it goes, the bridge with India itself will go away.
However, they can go to any extent.
In Triple Talaq, they challenged the Muslim Law; that is our own [religious] law. They used women for that, so that the law could be challenged.
Now, again they are using women against our basic right.
Nida Nadaf (Congress)
Article 35-A is our basic right. If we look at history, we belong neither to India nor to Pakistan. There was accession with the Union of India on some issue. The then leaders thought it very well that J&K should accede to secular India.
This article in the Indian constitution is not anyone’s favour to Kashmiris. But if this article goes, there will be no connection between India and J&K.
It is because of these agreements that Kashmir is part of India.
Ladies are badly affected due to conflict, but laws should be made for the protection of their rights.
If a girl from Bihar can be a shareholder of property in J&K, why can’t our own girl have such a right if she marries outside J&K? But she should not be able to sell land in J&K to any outsider.