The J&K govt in a letter to the Registrar of SC has sought adjournment of hearing in all the five petitions.
Protests continued on Saturday in the Kashmir Valley for the safeguard of Article 35A, with the constitutional validity of the provision being challenged in the Supreme Court. The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday told the Supreme Court that they want adjournment of the 6 August hearing on the Article.
Although the security agencies have alerted the government about a possible unrest in the Kashmir Valley over this issue, the Governor’s administration has said it was in view of the upcoming local body elections in the state that they have sought adjournment of the hearing.
The J&K government in a letter to the Registrar of SC has sought adjournment in all the five petitions that were scheduled to be heard by a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The Article grants a special status to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference has said in a press conference that there should be a state subjects register in J&K so that no outsider can take state citizenship. Protest marches, many of them spearheaded by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, have remained peaceful. There are reports of growing protests in some areas of Jammu including the entire belt of Chenab Valley and Rajouri-Poonch districts. Protests were also witnessed at Sonamarg and Pahalgam. The separatists have called for a two-day general strike from Sunday and Monday.
In Jammu, though opinion is divided, a big chunk of lawyers favour the continuation of Article 35A. But there are many groups including political parties like the BJP that want the abrogation of the Article for the greater integration of J&K with rest of the country. A senior lawyer of Jammu said that the Article gives the permanent residents of the state a lot of benefits including free education. He said that the people of J&K irrespective of their religion and region should come on the streets for the protection of this Article.
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that if there would be any tinkering with the special status it would have catastrophic ramifications which would be felt in the entire country. According to legal experts, this Article gives J&K the legislative power to decide the permanent residents of this state. Opposition National Conference has said that Article 35A serves as a vital link between the J&K state and the Union of India. While moving a petition in support of Article 35A, the NC said that the Supreme Court will have to take into consideration all the facts on how J&K acceded to the Union of India in 1947. Article 35A has been challenged by many people including a right wing NGO “We the Citizens”. CPI(M) and National Conference have challenged their petition, saying that the Article serves as the only link between the state and the Union and was also maintaining a fine balance of federalism. According to them, this Article protects the rights of all permanent residents of the state irrespective of their religion, creed, region, socio-economic standing etc.