Petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution had figured in the Supreme Court’s weekly hearing list for the last two consecutive weeks, but did not come up for hearing.
The matter figures in the forthcoming weekly list, too. It is, however, not listed on Monday or Tuesday and could come up in the final list for the rest of the week.
The court is seized of a clutch of five petitions challenging the provision which was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 by an order of President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet. The main petition filed by Delhi-based NGO ‘We the Citizens’ has been pending since 2014. Subsequently, four more petitions challenging the proviso were filed, which were then clubbed with the main one.
The matter last came up for hearing in August 2018, when the court put off the hearing to the second week of January after both the central government and Centre-ruled Jammu and Kashmir cited law and order issues and prayed that the proceedings be deferred till the local body polls were over in December 2018.
About two weeks ago, J&K standing counsel Advocate Shoeb Alam had submitted a note to the SC Registry intimating that the state will be seeking adjournment —- as and when the matter comes up for hearing —- as there is no elected government in J&K now and it is under President’s rule.
The Centre has not filed a counter-affidavit in the matter, saying it had consciously decided not to do so as matters raised are “pure questions of law”.
Article 35A bars Indian citizens, other than those who are permanent resident of J&K, from seeking employment, settling in the state, acquiring immovable properties or undertaking any trade or business if the state makes any law to that effect and it cannot be challenged before any court.