SRINAGAR: Invoking violation of women’s right to equality, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader has filed a petition similar to one already filed in the Supreme Court challenging the Constitutional validity of Article 35A that guarantee special rights and privileges to the people and government of Jammu and Kashmir.
BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay filed his petition on August 14. The petition states that Article 35A is “arbitrary and contrary to fundamental rights” as it violates the rights of a woman to marry a man of her choice, as marriage to a man from outside J&K will deprive her and her heirs of the right to own property in J&K, as also the right to have a government job and to vote in state assembly and local body elections.
The petition says that Article 35A also renders a woman’s daughters unfit for inheritance if they marry a person from outside the state, even if their mother is a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Article 35A gives a free hand to the State Government and politicians to discriminate between citizens of India on an unfair basis and give preferential treatment to some by trampling over others, since the non-residents of the state are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job, or voting in the local elections,” reads the plea.
Upadhyay has sought the Supreme Court’s direction to the governments in New Delhi and J&K to declare that fundamental rights, including right to equality, right to marry and right to privacy, are equally available to all Indian citizens throughout the territory of India, including Jammu and Kashmir.
It is to be seen whether the Supreme Court will take up Upadhyay’s petition, as it is similar to the one filed by Dr Charu Wali Khanna contending that Article 35A violates women’s right to equality and rights of inheritance. Another three petitions challenging Article 35A have been clubbed with Dr Khanna’s petition for hearing in the Supreme Court. The hearing is to commence in the week beginning August 27.
Kashmir-based political parties, pro-freedom groups, trade bodies, High Court Bar Association, and civil society groups have been up in arms against the hearing in Supreme Court on Article 35A. Political parties National Conference, Awami National Conference and CPI-M have already filed pleas in the apex court in support of Article 35A. The J&K Government has also filed an adjournment petition asking for deferment of the hearing till after Panchayat and local body elections are conducted in the state.