‘Defending it with all seriousness’
Jammu: The state government on Thursday told the Legislative Assembly that it was defending Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which grants special powers to the state government, with all seriousness and all its “capacity”. Law minister Abdul Haq Khan told the assembly that “be it Article 35A or 370, or any other related case in any court, we have engaged India’s top constitutional lawyers including Fali Nariman. We are availing their services to protect Article 35A.”
Khan was responding to questions raised by Opposition on some petitions in the Supreme Court (SC) that have challenged Article 35A.
“I along with my team have been attending the hearings in SC and have been defending it in whatever capacity the state can do,” Khan said.
The Opposition National Conference (NC) had asked the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to come clear on the issue of Article 35A. Taking part in the discussion on grants to Law and Justice and Panchayati Raj ministries, NC’s Ali Mohammad Sagar said, “The whole of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned about Articles 370 and 35A but there is a petition in SC submitted by an NGO ‘We The Citizens’, which is backed by BJP and RSS.”
He added, “There are communal forces who don’t want India to maintain its image (of secularism) for which J&K had joined it (in 1947).”
Sagar reminded the PDP of its Agenda of Alliance (AoA) signed with the BJP for forming the government in 2015, which said that “Article 370 and 35A won’t be touched”. “We have not seen any implementation of AoA,” Sagar said.
“We are concerned on some issues and there is need for us to remain on one page,” he said. “Set aside political differences,” he told the PDP, “you have to take a stand.”
An ally of the government, the Peoples Conference (PC), also demanded that the law minister apprise the House as to what steps the government had taken to safeguard the special status of J&K.
PC’s Kupwara MLA, Bashir Ahmad Dar, said, “We need to be told who is hearing the case of Article 35A (in the Supreme Court) and which measures have been taken to safeguard it.”
“It is a big challenge before you,” he told the law minister. “Do check which bench is hearing the case so that our rights are protected.”