The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the hearing of petitions challenging Article 35A for three months, ANI reported. This constitutional provision grants special privileges to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The top court adjourned the hearing after the Centre argued that it had appointed an interlocutor for holding talks with various stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, and the court proceedings may affect the dialogue process, The Indian Express reported. Former Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Sharma was appointed to the post on October 23 to initiate dialogue with elected representatives of the state, political parties, different organisations and residents of the state.
Four petitions – three clubbed with the main one filed by NGO We The Citizens – that want the article scrapped were placed before the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandracud.
Article 35A grants the Jammu and Kashmir legislature the power to define the “permanent residents” of the state and provide them with special rights and privileges. It also bars citizens from other parts of India from acquiring immovable property in the state, taking up jobs with the state government, availing state-sponsored scholarships, or settling permanently anywhere in Jammu and Kashmir.
The NGO has challenged Article 35A’s legality in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was never presented before Parliament and was implemented on the president’s orders in 1954. Under the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954, the provision appears as an “appendix” in the Constitution and not an amendment.
On Sunday, Kashmiri separatists had threatened to launch widespread protests if the Supreme Court ruled “against the interests and aspiration of the people of the state”. Several leaders, including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had warned against the law being repealed, fearing violent agitations in Jammu and Kashmir. In July, the Centre had been reluctant to file an affidavit in the case because it was a sensitive subject.