J&K: SC adjourns hearing on validity of Article 35A

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New Delhi: As per media report The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A of Constitution, which gives permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir certain privileges and deny settlement rights to other Indian citizens.

As per the Tribune news, a two-judge Bench adjourned the hearing after counsel for state of Jammu and Kashmir requested the top court to adjourn the hearing in view of the ongoing preparations for rural and urban local body polls in the state.

The Centre once again said an interlocutor had been appointed and talks were going on for a peaceful solution.

Attorney General KK Venugopal also talked about preparations for local body elections in the state, which is currently under Governor’s rule.

A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice AM Khanwilkar said a three-Judge Bench would decide if the matter needed to be referred to a five-judge Constituion Bench.

CJI Misra said under Article 145 of the Constitution any challenge to validity of a constitutional provision was required to be examined by a Constitution Bench.

He said the Constituion Bench would have to examine if Article 35A violated basic structure of the Constitution or not.

The CJI said the court will hear petitioners, the Attorney General and to some extent Jammu and Kashmir Government before deciding the issue.

The Bench said it would take up the petitions against Article 35A after August 26.

Amid protests by National Conference and PDP in favour of Article 35A of the Constitution, the Jammu and Kashmir Government had on Friday written to the Supreme Court requesting it to defer the August 6 hearing on petitions challenging the controversial provision in view of upcoming panchayat and urban local body polls in the state.

In a letter written to the Supreme Court Registry, the state government’s counsel M Shoeb Alam said he would be seeking adjournment of the case on Monday, “on the account of the ongoing preparations for the upcoming panchayat/urban local body and municipal elections.”

Added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order in 1954, Article 35A gives special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and debars rest of Indians from acquiring immovable property, obtaining state government jobs and settling in the state.

The Supreme Court had on May 14 deferred hearing on petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution that gives special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. The provision debars non-permanent residents from buying property or getting state government jobs.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had posted the matter for hearing on August 6 after Attorney General KK Venugopal had sought an adjournment.

“This is a very sensitive matter. Our only prayer is that it may not be heard before three weeks as a solution is in the course of being devised,” Venugopal had told the Bench.

The state government has maintained that the Supreme Court had already settled the issue by ruling that Article 370 of the Constitution had attained permanent status. But the Centre has been shying away from filing its response to spell out its stand on Article 35A.

The Attorney General had last year told the court that the government didn’t want to file its affidavit in response to petitions against Article35A. It has been challenged on the ground that the President could not have amended the Constitution by an Order in 1954 and it was to be a temporary provision.

Amid growing political unease in Jammu and Kashmir over alleged attempts to do away with Article 35A, the top court had on August 14, 2017 hinted at sending all five petitions challenging the controversial provision to a Constitution Bench for a definitive finding on its validity.

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