Srinagar: The legal challenge to Article 35A has given mainstream political parties in Jammu & Kashmir something to do. The National Conference (NC) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have already filed pleas in the Supreme Court to intervene in the case, now the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is preparing to do the same.
The National Conference is also planning to start an awareness campaigns to counter the misconception of “gender bias” in provisions of Article 35A.
According to PDP chief spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir, they “fought” attempts to revoke Article 35A when their party was in power and would fight them now, tooth and nail.
“We are in consultation with legal experts. Within a day or two, we will take a decision (about filing an intervention plea in Supreme Court),” Mir told Kashmir Reader.
The solidarity on safeguarding the law that empowers the Jammu & Kashmir legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state would continue till the petitions are dismissed in the Supreme Court, he said.
“We will fight till the petitions are dismissed, then only the issue will be settled. The sword is still hovering over our head with the deferring of the hearing,” Mir said.
NC general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar told Kashmir Reader that his party would start an awareness campaign to clear the misconception that Article 35A is anti-women.
“That is not true. They are misinterpreting it. This is a baseless allegation that the Article has a gender bias,” Sagar said.
He said the law was being “unnecessarily” twisted and presented as anti-women, so as to create confusion.
CPI(M) legislator MY Tarigami, who has already filed an interference plea in the Supreme Court, said that his party will ask for dismissal of the petitions.
“A Constitutional bench has upheld Article 370 and its related provisions in earlier cases. What more is required to be done? The petitions are in conflict with the Constitutional provisions including Article 370 and 35A,” he said.
The Supreme Court today deferred hearing the bunch of petitions that have challenged the Constitutional validity of Article 35A. The next hearing is listed before the court on August 27.
The first petition challenging 35A was filed in July 2014 by a rightwing non-government organisation, ‘We the Citizens’. It challenged the validity of the Article on the grounds that it had been inserted into the Indian Constitution through a Presidential Order in 1954, rather than by following the procedure prescribed in Article 368 of the Indian Constitution.
Subsequent to this petition, three separate petitions were filed to challenge Article 35A. One of these, filed by Dr Charu Wali Khanna, contended that it “denies property right to a woman and her children marrying a person from outside the state”. The West Pakistan Refugees Association challenged Article 35A on grounds of discrimination in acquisition of property, government service, and voting rights.
The Supreme Court has clubbed the three subsequent petitions with the main petition filed by ‘We the Citizens’. In effect, the court will not only have to decide the validity of the Article on procedural aspects but also whether the Article violates Fundamental Rights of Indian citizens enshrined in Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
Last year, when the case came up for hearing in the apex court, the Government of India decided not to support the then PDP-BJP state government in seeking dismissal of the petitions.