Speculations are rife that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government may revoke Article 35A, which ensures a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. The speculations were triggered after the government moved additional troops to J&K, following which the state administration issued an advisory, asking all Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to leave the Valley at the earliest.
Though J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik advised against believing in rumours, all top leaders of the state raised concerns over the developments and demanded that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government breaks its silence.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also chaired a key Union Cabinet meeting at his residence, during which the Kashmir issue is believed to have been discussed. Prior to the meeting, the Prime Minister held a one-on-one meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah. National Security Advisor was also part of the meeting.
But what exactly is Article 35A, which is being discussed in detail by people in India as well as abroad.
What is Article 35A
Article 35A talks about “laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights”. The law defines the “classes of persons” who are or in future shall be the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
It also talks about the “special rights and privileges” of permanent residents, such as employment and “acquisition of immovable property” in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide, shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part,” says Article 35A.
The Article gives the right to J&K lawmakers to define who would be permanent residents of the state.
As per the provisions, no person from outside Jammu and Kashmir can buy or sell property in the state.
The journey of Article 35A
Article 35A was included through the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954. The order to insert the article was given by the then President, Rajendra Prasad, following recommendation by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru-led government.
Since it was a Presidential Order, it lacks Parliamentary sanction.
Text of Article 35A:
"Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights. — Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, no existing law in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State:
(a) defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be, permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; or
(b) conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects—
(i) employment under the State Government;
(ii) acquisition of immovable property in the State;
(iii) settlement in the State; or
(iv) right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide, shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part."