As a debate raged over the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre will explain to the Supreme Court the legal aspects of Article 35A of the Constitution, which empowers the state legislature to define permanent citizens. Attorney General K K Venugopal is expected to explain before the Supreme Court the legal aspects of Article 35A, which gives special status to the state under Article 370, home ministry officials said.
Since the petition is focused on procedural issues, the Attorney General would be presenting the legal aspects as enumerated in the Constitution, the officials in the know of the development said. The Supreme Court last month had asked the Centre to file a reply within three weeks to a writ petition filed by an NGO seeking that Article 35A be struck down.
The PIL said the state 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.
Article 35A was added to the Constitution by a presidential order in 1954. Article 370 grants special status to J&K, while Article 35A, added to the Indian Constitution through a presidential order, empowers the J&K legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges.
While the Jammu and Kashmir government contested the petition saying the president had the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an order, the Centre recently expressed its reservations. It filed a reply and requested the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar to refer the matter to a larger bench as constitutional issues were involved in the case.