The Centre on Monday justified its decision to scrap the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir by filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court, PTI reported. It told the court that militants and separatist elements took advantage of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice NV Ramana is scheduled to start hearing a batch of petitions challenging the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and Article 35A on November 14.
A 61-page counter affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Supreme Court said that Article 370 was neither in the national interest nor in the interest of Jammu and Kashmir. “The militants and separatist elements, with the support of foreign forces inimical to India, were taking advantage of the situation and sowing discord, discontent and even secessionist feelings among the populace of the state,” the Centre said in the affidavit. “What is more, the residents of the erstwhile state were also being denied all the benefits of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India to all other citizens of the country.”
The Centre argued that the abrogation of Article 370 would act as a catalyst to enable Jammu and Kashmir to achieve its full development potential, and to provide the residents the best possible standard of living in an “atmosphere of peace, amity and tranquillity”.
It also told the Supreme Court that it spent three times more on a resident of Jammu and Kashmir than the rest of the India, News18 reported. “During 2017-18, an average amount of Rs 8,227 per person was spent in rest of India, whereas Rs 27,358 per person was spent in Jammu and Kashmir,” the affidavit said. “Despite this overwhelmingly disproportionate expenditure, it was observed the developmental benefits were not percolating to the citizens of the erstwhile state.”
The government said the decisions were taken strictly in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution of India.
On Article 35A, the Centre claimed that it was ambiguous and a “serious obstacle” to the socio-economic development in Jammu and Kashmir. “It prevented investments in the State, impacted job creation...the women of the erstwhile State were discriminated against if they chose to marry a non-permanent resident”.
It added that though judicial review is part of the Constitutional power of the court, the justification, efficacy, desirability and the wisdom of such decisions of the president as well as the Parliament “is not amenable to judicial review”.
India had on August 5 rescinded the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, paving the way for the creation of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. These came into existence on October 31.
The Centre also imposed curfew-like restrictions in August. The restrictions have gradually been eased in Kashmir, with mobile phone connectivity restored and schools and colleges reopened. However, an internet ban continues, and senior leaders of local political parties remain in detention. There have also been reports of clashes between security personnel and protestors. Several petitions in Supreme Court have challenged these restrictions and detentions.