Larger debate needed on Constitution’s Article 35A, Government tells SC

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) The Central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that there was need for a “larger debate” in the Supreme Court on the issue of declaring unconstitutional Article 35A, which provides special rights and privileges to the natives of Jammu and Kashmir.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar was told by Attorney General K.K. Venugopal that the NDA government was not keen to file an affidavit in the case, and called for a larger debate on the issue as it was “very sensitive” matter.
Article 35A, which was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, accords special rights and privileges to the natives of Jammu and Kashmir, and empower its legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating right to equality of people from other states or any other right under the Indian Constitution.
The provision prohibits all Indians – except the natives of Jammu and Kashmir – from purchasing immovable property anywhere in the state, obtaining government jobs and availing the state-sponsored scholarship schemes.
Venugopal sought the matter be referred the matter to a larger bench because constitutional issues were involved in the case, but the court, however, said a three-judge bench would hear the matter after six weeks.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by a Delhi-based NGO ‘We the citizens’, which has sought Article 35A to be declared unconstitutional, contending the President could not have amended the Constitution by the 1954 order and it was supposed to be a temporary provision.
The plea said the Jammu and Kashmir government, under the guise of Article 35A and Article 370 which grants special autonomous status to the state, has been discriminating against non-residents who are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.
Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir government had asserted before the court that the President has the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an Order, as was done for the state.

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