New Delhi, August 31 : The Supreme Court on Friday deferred till January 19, 2019 hearing over the constitutional validity of the contentious Article 35A, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them.
ASG Tushar Mehta representing Jammu and Kashmir submitted before a three-judge constitutional bench cited law and order issue and said, “All the security agencies are engaged in the preparation of the local body elections in the state.”
While Attorney General KK Venugopal appearing for Centre told the Apex Court ,”Let local body elections finish in a peaceful manner.”
The provisions Article 35-A of the Constitution bars Indian citizens, other than those who are permanent residents of J&K, from seeking employment, settling in the state, purchasing land or house in the state.
The petitions have sought to quash the Article 35A, which confers special status to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
Article 35A was added to the Indian Constitution in 1954 as part of the deal between the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh, and the republic of India to protect the privileges of Kashmiri residents.
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.
Bandh in Kashmir Valley
Life across the Kashmir Valley was adversely affected on Friday by a separatist-called protest shutdown to voice support for Article 35A.Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a conglomerate of separatists headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yasin Malik called a complete shutdown on Friday to highlight support for the article.
Shops, business establishments and educational institutions were closed across the Valley while all kinds of transport remained off the roads due to the strike called, officials said.
Thursday’s strike was part of a two-day shutdown called by the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL). Protests have been held in Kashmir over the past month in support of continuing Article 35-A.
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 Abdullah, who met a civil society group, ‘We the people of J&K’, which is spearheading a campaign against the revocation, on Wednesday.
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.