The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing of petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A of the Indian Constitution till January, Bar and Bench reported. The article, incorporated into the Indian Constitution in 1954, grants special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir.

The top court’s decision came after the central and state governments urged the Supreme Court to adjourn the hearing, citing potential law-and-order problems amid upcoming panchayat and local body elections in the state later this year.

“All the security agencies are engaged in the preparation of the local body elections in the state,” Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for Centre, told the top court on Friday. “Let local body elections finish in a peaceful manner.” The court agreed with the suggestion, and posted the matter for further hearing on January 19, ANI reported.

The article denies property rights to women who marry those from outside Jammu and Kashmir. It also allows the Assembly to define “permanent residents” of the state.

In all, four petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of Article 35Aon the grounds that it was never presented before Parliament and was implemented on the President’s orders in 1954. The petitioners argue that the state became an “integral part of India” when it acceded to the Union, so there is no question of special status or treatment.

Some political parties, including the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have moved the Supreme Court supporting the constitutional provision.

Shutdown in the Valley

The Kashmir Valley and parts of the Jammu region observed a complete shutdown on Thursday to protest the hearing of petitions against Article 35A. A shutdown was also observed in the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Pir Panjal region. The Joint Resistance Leadership, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik had given the call for the strike.