NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday will hear the Public Interest Litigations (PILs) in connection with the Article 35A that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state by two months. Four petitions demanding scrapping of Article 35A in Jammu and Kashmir were listed before a bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.
The main petition was filed by ‘We the Citizens’, a Delhi-based NGO in 2014. Three more petitions were also filed challenging the Article but were later clubbed with the main one. The issue has come to the centre stage of controversy after the Supreme Court’s indication that it may be dealt with by a five-judge constitution bench, to ascertain that, if Article 35A relating to special rights and privileges of the citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir is ultra vires of the Constitution or if there is any procedural lapse.
The issue has triggered controversy after a plea was filed by Charu Wali Khanna, a lawyer and former member of the National Commission for Women, challenging Article 35A of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution which deal with the “permanent residents” of the state. The plea has challenged certain provisions of the Constitution which deny property right to a woman who marries a person from outside the state.
The provision, which makes such women from the state to lose rights over property, also applies to her son. The matter is a hot topic in Jammu and Kashmir with the mainstream regional political parties, like ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), main opposition National Conference, and separatist leadership clearly warning that any change in status quo over Article 35A invite serious repercussions.
While on the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre and as a coalition partner in Jammu and Kashmir, has been historically against any special provisions to Jammu and Kashmir.