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J&K special status: Defer pleas challenging Article 35A, Centre to Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of pleas challenging constitutionality of the Article 35A, including one by a Delhi-based NGO, ‘We The Citizens’.

  The Centre on Monday urged the Supreme Court to defer the hearing in the petitions challenging constitutionality of Article 35A, which gives Jammu and Kashmir special status.

Attorney General (A-G) K K Venugopal told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that an interlocutor, appointed by the Centre, was in talks with all stakeholders to resolve the “sensitive” Kashmir issue, and it was an “ongoing process”.

Dineshwar Sharma, former director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), was appointed the Centre’s interlocutor for J&K on October 23, 2017.

“Your lordships have seen what is happening in Kashmir. The interlocutor is in the process of discussing it…I don’t think it needs to be heard now,” the A-G told the bench, seeking more time.

The court will now hear the matter on August 6.

The Centre had made the same plea when the matter had come up for hearing earlier in October 2017.

The Supreme Court is hearing a clutch of pleas challenging constitutionality of the Article 35A, including one by a Delhi-based NGO, ‘We The Citizens’. The petitioners have said that the Article 35A went against the fundamental right of equality under Article 14 of the Constitution.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir government, along with its standing counsel Shoeb Alam, referred to two judgments by the constitution bench of the Supreme Court and said the issues raised in the pleas challenging Article 35A were covered by these verdicts.

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, also representing the state government, said that since 1927, the position in this regard was clear and it cannot be decided like this.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar said the state permitted a person, who had migrated to Pakistan before 1947, to return and settle down in the Valley, but “five lakh Kashmiris, who had to leave the state, (and were residing in places like) Delhi…can’t go” back.

Kumar said several students were debarred from admission to government medical college in Jammu and Kashmir even after qualifying the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), only on the ground that he or she was not a permanent resident of the state.

“It is also a sensitive issue, but it is also the matter of life of people who have been forced to leave,” the counsel said.

However, Dwivedi told the court that since the issue required interpretation of the constitutional provision, no interim order should be passed in the matter.

The Article 35A was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad, on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet. It empowers the J&K legislature to frame any law, without attracting a challenge on the grounds of violation of the right to equality of the people from other states or any other right under the Constitution.



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