Supreme Court to hear plea against Article 35A that grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir

New Delhi: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will hear on Monday for a final disposition of a legion that challenges Article 35A of the Constitution. The Article relates to the special rights and privileges of the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

It was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954. It empowers the state’s legislature to frame laws without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other states or any other right under the Constitution.

The petition was filed by a Delhi-based NGO, We the Citizens, which wants the state-specific law repealed.

Kashmiri separatist leaders have warned of widespread protests if the Supreme Court rules in favour of the petitioners. They say the move to tinker with Article 35(A) is a conspiracy against Jammu and Kashmir.

In a joint statement in Srinagar, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik urged the people to “launch a mass agitation if the Supreme Court delivered a verdict against the interests and aspirations of the people of the state”.

“Any move to tinker with a state subject law will create a Palestine-like situation,” the separatist Hurriyat leaders warned. They asked the people to prepare for protests against any change in the law that bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir from acquiring immoveable property in the state.

They alleged the BJP government was working to sabotage the referendum process in the state and described the PDP, its ruling partner in the state, as “an ally of the RSS”.

Earlier this month, at a rally to mark Dussehra, RSS prant pracharak Rupesh Kumar had called Article 35A unconstitutional. He said that it violates the basic character of Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality to all citizens of India, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion.

Four petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging various provisions of Articles 35 (A) and 370 of the Constitution that grant special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The petitioners are Labha Rama Gandhi on behalf of West Pakistan Refugee Action Committee; Kali Dass, a refugee; Charuwali Khanna and We the Citizens, an NGO.

(With inputs from PTI)

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