Srinagar, Aug 5 : The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A which empowers Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define ‘permanent residents’ of the state and provide special rights to them and further posted the matter on August 27.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “Only a three judge bench can consider this case. We can’t hear it in one day,” he said.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said a two-judge bench cannot hear the bunch of petitions challenging Article 365A of the Constitution. Justice DY Chandrachud is not available. The matter was supposed to be heard by a three-judge bench.
The petitions have sought to quash the Article 35A, which confers special status to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. The matter is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra says that Article 35A has been in vogue for more than 60 years. “An argument about strike by lawyers can’t now be a ground to speed up the case,” he says. Jammu and Kashmir seeks matter to be adjourned to December. The matter will now be listed on August 27.
Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the Supreme Court will hear Attorney General (AG) of India as the Jammu and Kashmir government “may not have much to say”. J&K counsel has opposed the observation. ASG Tushar Mehta and Rakesh Dwivedi reply, saying that the state has “a lot to say in this matter”.
There are fears of massive unrest in Jammu and Kashmir as the Supreme Court on Monday will be hearing petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A , which empowers the State legislature to define “permanent residents” and provide special rights and privileges to them.
A complete shutdown was observed in the Valley on the call of the separatist Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has written to the apex court to defer the hearings citing upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections.
There are fears of “revolt” in the police ranks in case the Supreme Court decides to strike down Article 35A because state police is always on the forefront in the fight against terrorists, pro-separatists protests and stone-pelters in the valley. Director General of Police Shesh Paul Vaid admitted that the local police had a view about this emotive issue.
The separatist Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) observed a complete shutdown for two days in support of the Article 35A, which gives special powers to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly that has been challenged in the Supreme Court.
Any meddling with State subject law is aimed at changing J&K’s demography. This issue is directly related to our right of self-determination. We all need to fight for it with unity and steadfastness,” said the separatists in a joint statement.
Describing Article 35A “a matter of life and death”, the separatists said, “We will spill our blood to safeguard it.”
The Kashmir and Jammu regions witnessed street protests in Anantnag, Srinagar and Rajouri on Friday, three days ahead of the Supreme Court’s scheduled hearing on the petitions challenging Article 35A, which grants special privileges to residents of the State. The Hurriyat and the JKLF held demonstrations in the Valley. Over 300 lawyers in Jammu passed a resolution for retaining Article 35 A.
Mirwaiz, in series of tweets, said that no court whether of India or Pakistan has any right to take decisions about Jammu and Kashmir having implications on the overall settlement of the “dispute”. Mirwaiz also said that Kashmiris will never allow tinkering with Article 35A and are ready to lay down their lives for its protection.
Police and paramilitary personnel has been deployed in strength and check posts set up to prevent protesters from gathering in large numbers. Shops, businesses, markets and transport services remained shut. Rallies in favour of Article 35A were held in Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar district
More than 1,600 police personnel have been killed fighting terrorists since 1990.
Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.
Article 35A is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature a carte blanche to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare.
Meanwhile, National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah also called for “united fight against the attempts to abrogate Article 35A”.
“Jammu or Kashmir or Ladakh have to come together over the issue,” said Mr. Abdullah, who met a civil society group, ‘We the people of J&K’, which is spearheading a campaign against the revocation, on Wednesday.
Abdullah said he hoped that the Hurriyat leaders too would “listen to the civil society members”. “There is need for an organised movement,” said Dr. Abdullah.
In 2014, a little-known NGO approached the Supreme Court challenging Article 35A on the grounds that it was illegally added to the Constitution as it was never floated before Parliament. In July 2017, Supreme Court lawyer Charu Wali Khanna also challenged Article 35A on the grounds that it was discriminatory towards women