Article 35A is a controversial piece of text in India’s constitution. It has historically been considered as a ‘bridge’ joining India and the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Ever since its enactment in 1954, Article 35A has been a topic of discussion amongst the Indian political class.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the helm of things, there has been a long-standing debate that whether Article 35A should be declared null and void or not.
One of the key agendas in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto for the Lok Sabha Election 2019 was to revoke Article 35A.
So, what exactly is Article 35A? Lets find out.
TEXT OF THE ARTICLE 35A
"Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights. — Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, no existing law in force in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State:
(a) defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be, permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; or
(b) conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects—
(i) employment under the State Government;
(ii) acquisition of immovable property in the State;
(iii) settlement in the State; or
(iv) right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide,
shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part."
UNDERSTANDING ARTICLE 35A
Article 35A gives special rights to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
As per Article 35A,
- If you are not a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir, you can not acquire any immovable property in the state.
- The Jammu and Kashmir state assembly can decide on who ‘permanent residents’ of the state are.
- The state assembly can confer on such people any special rights and privileges they deem fit.
- Any woman who is not a ‘PR’ of Jammu and Kashmir and is getting married to a man in J&K does not get the right to property. In other words, a woman married into J&K can also not acquire any property in the state.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF ARTICLE 35A IS SCRAPPED?
There has been a constant debate surrounding Article 35A ever since it was first challenged in Supreme Court in 2014 on the grounds that it was enacted through a presidential order and not through Constitution amendment under Article 368 – which means it never passed the ‘Parliament test’.
There have been occasions where Kashmiri women have filed cases against the Article because of the marriage law.
If Article 35A is scrapped,
- Any Indian would then be able to acquire immovable property in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- There will no more be a concept of ‘permanent residents’ in the state of J&K and citizens of the state will be like the citizens of the rest of the country.
- The State Assembly would then function like any other state assembly in the country and there would not be any special privileges at their disposal.
WHICH PARTIES WANT IT SCRAPPED?
Amongst the mainstream parties, the Bhartiya Janata Party strongly supports the revoking of Article 35A. The party has time and again mentioned how the Article 35A hinders integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country.
WHICH PARTIES DON’T WANT IT SCRAPPED?
All regional parties of the state, including the National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Jammu and Kashmir People's Movement (J&KPM) and others local stake holders are against revoking of Articles 35A and 370.
Amongst the national parties, the Congress party also is in favour of keeping Articles 35A and 370 intact.
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?
BJP has had long standing agenda to revoke Article 35A. After Prime Minister Modi’s landslide victory in Lok Sabha Elections 2019, it was expected that the BJP would finally move against the Article 35A and Article 370. In a recent development, Kashmir Valley was gripped in panic as the security advisory of Jammu and Kashmir government instructed tourists and Amarnath Yatris to depart from the state at the earliest.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik, however, maintained there was no need to panic.
Meanwhile, section 144 has been imposed across Srinagar as former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah were placed under house arrest late on Sunday. For security, a total of 30,000 troops have been deployed in Jammu as Governor Satya Pal Malik has called for an emergency meeting with the DGP, Chief Secretary at his residence in Srinagar.
For live updates on Jammu and Kashmir situation read | Kashmir on Edge: State leaders put under house arrest; valley braces itself for 'big decisions' | Live Updates