Jammu & Kashmir

SC defers hearing of Article 35A till January next year

The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution to January next year.

The Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government referred to upcoming local body polls in state and seek adjournment of hearing on petitions against Article 35 A.

Any debate and discussion on Article 35 A has direct repercussions on law and order in the state, the J&K government told the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

“Let the elections take place. We are told there is law and order problem,” the SC bench said.

On Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir government approached the SC seeking adjournment of the hearing. In a letter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court and circulated, M Shoeb Alam, the standing counsel for the state in the apex court, sought adjournment of the hearing on five petitions.

The state “will be seeking adjournment in the matters on August 31 on account of the ongoing preparation for the upcoming panchayat and urban local body and municipal elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the letter said.

“The letter may kindly be circulated to the hon’ble judges so as to avoid inconvenience to them…” it said.

The apex court was hearing a bunch of petitions in the matter, including the one filed by NGO ‘We the Citizens’ seeking quashing of article 35-A, which confers special status to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and denies property rights to women who marry those from outside the state.

The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.

The dates for the local body elections in the state have not been declared yet, but are they likely to be held in September-end. ​

Life in Kashmir came to a standstill on Thursday and Friday due to a complete shutdown called by separatists against the legal challenge in the Supreme Court on the validity of Article 35A.

The Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) has called for a two-day strike. Authorities said the areas where restrictions under section 144 CrPC have been imposed include police station Khanyar, Nowhatta, Maharajgunj, Safakadal, Rainawari, Maisuma and Kralkhud. The officials said security forces have been deployed in strength at vulnerable places in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir for maintaining law and order.