Mumbai: Article 370 of the Indian constitution is an article that grants special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to ensure that the distinct character and identity of state is preserved. Thus J&K is the only state to have its own constitution.
Article 35A of the constitution is a derivative of Article 370, which allows the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly to define who is a permanent resident, who is eligible to vote, work for the state, own land and get admission in colleges.
Both the articles are in the news recently as the petitions that demanded scrapping of the articles are to be heard together by the Supreme Court on August 29 2017.
Critical impacts of the two Articles are:
Article 370 limits the constitutional powers of the Central Govt. to only three areas: Defense, Foreign Affairs and Communications. Also in case of other areas, the powers of the Central Government can be extended to the State only with the concurrence of the State Government.
Scrapping of the Article would mean that J&K would be fully governed by the Constitution of India.
The Article 370 has put the BJP in a political dilemma because in its election manifesto of 2014, BJP had mentioned that the Article 370 would be abrogated if it came to power.
However because it is now in an alliance with the local Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in governing Kashmir, the BJP made a U-turn and promised that status quo on Article 370 will be maintained and instead negotiated for PDP backing on the Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) to continue in the State, in a mutual ‘give and take’ approach.
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Article 35A is discriminatory against non-residents as they are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.
Scrapping of Article 35A would have people from outside come to Kashmir, buy land, get government jobs, scholarships for their children, aid and relief which the local residents even the Hindus from Jammu may not be in favour of.
Article 35A is discriminatory towards the women of Kashmir for, if they marry a non-resident man, their children lose succession rights. However for males even after marriage to non- resident women, they will not lose the right of being permanent residents.
Scrapping of Article 35A therefore would bring equality among genders as enshrined in the Constitution.
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Scrapping of both the Articles has met with stiff opposition from all the main political parties the PDP, the National Conference, and the All Party Hurriyat Conference, and despite being most bitter enemies they have united against the threat of abrogation of the two articles.
The conclusion on the debate about the Articles has been well put by Kashmir leader Omar Abdullah who tweeted that “if there is debate on the Articles, you will have to debate the accession itself”