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Controversy around Art 35A

The Supreme Court is hearing a PIL petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A.Article 35A was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, accords special rights and privileges to the natives of J&K. It empower its legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating right to equality of people from other states or any other right under the Indian Constitution.

The PIL, filed by a Delhi-based NGO ‘We the citizens’, has sought Article 35A to be declared unconstitutional, contending the President could not have amended the Constitution by the 1954-order and it was supposed to be a temporary provision. It said the J&K government, under the excuse of Article 35A and Article 370 which grants special autonomous status to the state, has been discriminating against non-residents who are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.

Article 35A of the Constitution is more relevant for the Duggar region of Jammu than Kashmir and Ladakh for a variety of reasons. There is a strong apprehension that its repeal will lead to the economic deprivation and erosion of cultural identity of the Dogras.

The provisions of the article have their roots in 1927 laws brought by the last Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh.Protecting the Dogras from domination by elite and affluent non-state subjects, mostly from neighbouring Punjab, was the prime motive.Art 35A is considered for preserving unique social identity of J&K people.

Source: Indian Express