Article 35 A Row: A Week Of Anxiety And Distress

Article 35 A Row: A Week Of Anxiety And Distress

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Asem Mohiuddin                                                                                 Anxiety

 A week before the August 6 was full of anxiety and stress for the people of Kashmir. Across the state the debate had triggered over the fate of article 35-A of Indian constitution that gives the privilege to the state Legislature to define the permanent residents of state and bars outsiders to seek jobs, buy properties in state.

 It also even disowns the girls from the state from their property rights once they marry a boy from outside state.

 The apex court was scheduled to hear the three petitions filed by various NGO’s to challenge its legality on Monday.

While the Kashmir was observing a complete shutdown for second consecutive day on separatists call against any possible tinkering with the law, however, the court deferred the hearing for two weeks and set it for 27 August.

The case of challenging to Article 35-A was one among the five cases which were deferred since the court has decided that the preliminary arguments could be heard by a three judge bench. Justice Chandrachud was not in the court due to which the case was deferred.

The state government in the court had pleaded that hearing in the case shall be deferred till December this year since the government is planning to hold the Municipal and Panchayat elections in the state.

 While the court refused to defer it until December, the Chief Justice Dipak Mishra, however, said that they need to decide it whether the matter will be heard by a division bench.

 “The Challenge to the controversial Article 35A has been mounted in 2014, sixty years after it was inserted. The three-judge Bench will now hear preliminary arguments on whether the matter should be referred to a Constitution Bench,” said CJI Dipak Mishra.

The petition was first field by Dr Charu Wali Khan a Kashmiri Pandith woman who married outside the cast and state and  now challenges in the court of law against the gender inequality in state under Article 35-A passed through the presidential order in 1954.

Later many more petitions were filed by various NGO’s including the one by Jammu Kashmir Study Center-RSS backed think tank and later were clubbed together for the hearing by the Supreme Court.

The petitions are backed strongly by the right wing political party BJP which even refused to file the counter affidavit in court.

The BJP maintains its clear position and says that in one country it would not accept two laws and special privileges to any of the states in country.

The position of regional and other political parties of state is different and have been protesting in its favour and demands its strengthening.

Except the BJP all the political parties in the state have been on roads including Peoples Democratic Party which till two months back was the coalition partner of BJP in state besides National Conference and Pradesh Congress.

In other words, the controversy revolving over the controversial law has heightened the political tensions in state and kept it divided in its opinion.

While the Kashmir Bar Association has pledged to defend the article in the Supreme Court and deputed a team of senior lawyers to defend the case, the Jammu Bar Association has an official position to seek its scraping from the Constitution of India what they believe will result into state’s complete merger with the rest of country.

Besides, the people who possess the right wing political ideology also support striking down of the law while the political cadres of NC and PDP demand its strengthening.

In Ladkah region the Kargil has been protesting in its favour but there is a diplomatic silence by the Buddhist population. They are yet to place their opinion over the matter.

While BJP argues that scrapping of Law is aimed to weaken the separatist ideology in Kashmir, the general perception among the people in the entire state is that its revocation may trigger a major economic and social crisis in the state.

“We will be robbed of the jobs, economic opportunities and our identity as Dogras, Kashmiris and Buddhists in state will be under threat,” argues senior NC leader Devinder Singh Rana.

He said that even this law was enacted by the Hari Singh on the request of a special community in state after they feared the invasion of outsiders in state to rob them of social and economic opportunities.

“While we all believe that state is an integral part of India, however, no one can accuse us of being anti nationals for this demand as it is the matter of our culture, identity and economy of state,” he added and appealed people to speak against the attempts of its abrogation.  

Meanwhile, as the rising temperature have cooled down temporarily due to the deferring in hearing of the case, all eyes are set for the 27 August as what would unfold in the Supreme Court with regard to this Article. Anxiety Anxiety

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