Srinagar, Mar 21: As the Spring has set in and Kashmir is hoping that tourists would once again start visiting the Valley, the Article 35-A may return to haunt the people again.
Media reports suggest that the Supreme Court is likely to hear the petitions challenging Article 35-A on April 9.
It may be recalled that a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Mishra, Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwikar and Justice DY Chandrachud in October last year had deferred the hearing of petitions by three months following the submission by attorney general, KK Venugopal that the court proceedings would hamper the dialogue initiated by the Centre’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma.
Article 35-A gives special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
The petitions challenging Article 35-A have been filed by West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee, We The Citizens, an NGO and Charu Wali Khanna and Dr Seema Razdan.
A Kashmir watcher said, “Last year also this issue snowballed into a major controversy with separatists threatening to launch an agitation. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had to personally meet the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pleaded with him to ensure that this vital Article is not fiddled with.”
He said, “For the past three years tourists have been staying away from the Valley due to one or other reason. If the Apex Court goes ahead and revokes this Article it can trigger can uproar in the Valley.”
An analyst said, “When PDP and BJP entered into an alliance in 2015 both the parties had decided that no controversial issues would be raised. Unfortunately BJP leaders and the people associated with the rightwing parties have been raking up abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35-A whenever they get a chance. This leads to uncertainty in Kashmir and adds to the confusion.”
A legal expert said that Article 35-A was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954 and was extended to J&K through the ‘Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order issued by President Rajendra Prasad on May 14, 1954. It was specifically devised to grant protection to state subject laws that had already been defined under the Maharaja’s rule and notified in 1927 and 1932.
“It was the late Maharaja who wanted to safeguard the citizenship rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Despite that people of Jammu are opposing the Article 370 and Article 35-A. If these Articles are revoked it would create a wedge between Jammu and Kashmir regions and could become the basis of the state getting divided,” the legal expert added.
A politician said, “It looks like that revocation of Article 35-A is on the cards as BJP would try to project it as one of its achievements in the forthcoming 2019 parliamentary polls.”