SC Admits Plea Challenging J&K Art 370 Status


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday admitted a plea challenging the legality of Article 370. The plea challenges the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution.

The plea says that Article 370 has lapsed and urged that the separate constitution of Jammu and Kashmir be declared illegal. The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre, seeking response to the plea.

The plea in Supreme Court comes at a time when a debate on Article 35A of the Constitution, which entitles the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to define Permanent Residents of the state, is brewing in political circles.

National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah said that abrogation of Article 35A will lead to a “revolt”. “When it will come to that decision, you will see this mass rising. Don’t forget when the Amarnath land row happened in 2008, people rose overnight,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) have been calling for repealing Article 370 of the Constitution.

However, repealing Article 370 requires a Constitutional amendment in agreement with the Legislative Assembly of the state which may never agree to it.

There is another provision that appears in the Appendices of the Constitution as Article 35A, which is considered the real force behind Article 370.

As per the existing laws framed using Article 35A, an outsider cannot buy a property or settle in Jammu and Kashmir; is not allowed to vote and contest in state Assembly election; and cannot get a job in the Jammu and Kashmir government.

In December 2015, a PIL was filed in the Supreme Court by an RSS-linked NGO ‘We the Citizen’ seeking repeal of Article 35A on the ground of constitutionality.

The Centre, in its response, said that the matter involves complex issues of constitutionality and it would be appropriate for the Supreme Court to decide the matter. The Supreme Court is likely to hear the matter later this month.