Why is Article 35A important for Jammu and Kashmir?

The Supreme Court is all set to give the judgment on the petitions filed by an NGO, We the Citizens, who has challenged the validity of Article 35A of the Constitution, granting special privileges to Jammu and Kashmir.

What is Article 35A?

  • Jammu and Kashmir’s permanent residents enjoy special rights under article 35A.
  • Only the permanent residents have the right to own immovable property, settle permanently, or avail state-sponsored scholarship schemes.
  • This article also restricts companies from hiring non-resident persons in the state
    The first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Rajendra Prasad of Independent India.
  • In 1954, the Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution by the orders of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet
  • Since Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution was issued under Presidential Order, the President can make certain “exceptions and modifications” to the Constitution for the benefit of ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir
  • Hence, Article 370 of the Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A ensures special rights to the permanent residents of Kashmir.

Petitions Filed Against Article 35A:
The NGO — We the Citizens — filed a writ petition challenging the validity of both Article 35A and Article 370, on the basis of the following arguments:
1. Four representatives from Kashmir were a part of the Constituent Assembly as well involved in the process of drafting the Constitution
2. Article 370 was a ‘temporary provision’ to restore peace and harmony in Jammu and Kashmir
3. Further, the NGO thinks the article is against the “very spirit of oneness of India”, creating a “class within a class of Indian citizens”.
4. The second petition threw light on Jammu and Kashmir native Charu Wali Khanna. “Her children are denied a permanent resident certificate, thereby considering them illegitimate,” the petition said. Her children, who were born in the state, were denied the rights of the permanent resident as she had married a non-permanent resident.

History Of Jammu & Kashmir:
1. During the time of independence, the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, was not in favour of joining Pakistan so he sighed the Instrument of Accession in October 1947 with India.

” It is my Government’s wish that as soon as law and order have been restored in Jammu and Kashmir and her soil cleared of the invader the question of the State’s accession should be settled by a reference to the people,” said the then Governor-General of India, Lord Mountbatten.

2. The Line of Control was established in the region in July 1949.
3. Jammu and Kashmir became an Indian state, but both India and Pakistan continued claiming that the entire Kashmir belong to both of them.
4. However, Kashmir wanted to remain an independent state and it was given the special status amid negotiations initiated by the Iron Man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

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