Supreme Court hearing demanding scrapping Article 35A to resume today: Only BJP lawyer to present case, main hearing on 31 Aug

The Supreme Court on Monday is set to hear a petition seeking the scrapping of Article 35A in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, three weeks after the court was adjourned. The Jammu and Kashmir government had moved an application and sought to defer the hearing of the case, citing upcoming panchayat and urban local body elections.

According to ANIthe apex court will hear only lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay's fresh plea against Article 35A, while the main hearing in the case is likely to take place on 31 August.

Article 370 of the Constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A disallows people from residing in Jammu and Kashmir, buying or owning immovable property in the state, settle permanently, or get state government jobs.

A non-governmental organisation, We the Citizens, filed a petitioned in the Apex Court in 2014 to abolish the law on the grounds that it was "unconstitutional". There are apprehensions, among sections of Kashmiris, that if the law is repealed or diluted, outsiders would settle in Jammu and Kashmir.

On Sunday, the National Conference engaged former solicitor general of India Gopal Subramanium to defend Article 35A of the Constitution, the party said.

"Party president and member of Parliament from Srinagar constituency, Farooq Abdullah, yesterday (Saturday) held detailed discussions with senior lawyers in Delhi in the context of petitions challenging the state's special status in the Supreme Court," an NC spokesman said. He said Abdullah met Subramanium and engaged his service to represent the party's intervention plea in the apex court.

Subramanium is a former chairman of the Bar Council of India and has been a part of numerous landmark cases. He was awarded the National Law Day Award for being an outstanding jurist, presented to him in 2009 by the president.

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

File image of the Supreme Court. AP

Fresh plea in SC challenges the constitutional validity of Article 35A

A fresh plea was moved in the Supreme Court on Friday challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to define "permanent residents" for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.

The petitioner, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) 'Ikkjut Jammu', sought quashing of the provision which has been challenged by several others including civil society groups, individuals. There have also been petitions supporting the retention of Article 35A of the Constitution.

The fresh petition, filed through advocate Sumit R Sharma, says that Article 35A furthers "two nation theory which is against the theory of secularism".

"It is an enabling provision for the creation of a theological state within secular territory of India. It ensures that the character of J&K's Legislative Assembly shall remain Islamic," the petition stated.

Strike observed in Poonch's Mendhar tehsil in favour of Article 35A 

A strike was also observed in Poonch district's Mendhar tenshil on Saturday in support of Article 35A of the Constitution and the NC also took out a rally cautioning against tinkering with the provision.

Shops and business establishments remained closed and public transport remained off roads in response to a strike call given by local social and religious organisations in favour of Article 35A, officials said. They said several rallies were taken out during the strike which passed off peacefully.

Senior NC leader and local MLA Javed Ahmed Rana led the protest march and said dilution or scrapping of Article 35A would have serious ramifications.

"This provision (Article 35A) is the pride and identity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We will fight tooth and nail for its retention," Rana said.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Aug 27, 2018 10:31:00 IST

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