Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud said Article 35A, which empowered the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature to define “permanent residents” of the State and provide them special privileges, denied fundamental rights to others.
“Article 35A gave special rights and privileges to permanent residents and virtually took away the rights for non-residents. These rights included the right to equal opportunity of State employment, right to acquire property and the right to settle in Jammu and Kashmir,” Chief Justice Chandrachud, heading a Constitution Bench.
About: Article 35A
The Indian Constitution that granted special rights and privileges to the residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It was inserted into the Indian Constitution through a Presidential Order in 1954, as a part of the broader Article 370, which granted a special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union.
Article 35A allowed the Jammu and Kashmir state legislature to define "permanent residents" of the state and provide them with certain exclusive rights, which included:
Property Rights: Only permanent residents were allowed to own property in the state. This meant that non-residents couldn't buy land or property in Jammu and Kashmir.
Employment Opportunities: The article allowed the state government to provide special provisions for the employment of permanent residents in government jobs, preventing non-residents from competing for these positions.
Social and Economic Benefits: Permanent residents were entitled to various social and economic benefits, including access to government-sponsored scholarships, health care, and other welfare programs.
Political Representation: Only permanent residents could participate in local elections, vote in state elections, and hold public office in the state.
The rationale behind Article 35A was to protect the cultural and demographic identity of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
It aimed to ensure that the influx of non-residents and potential demographic changes wouldn't alter the unique character of the region.
However, Article 35A was a subject of controversy and debate.
Critics argued that it created a sense of discrimination against non-residents and hindered economic development by restricting investments from outside the state.
Supporters, on the other hand, believed that these protections were necessary to preserve the distinct cultural identity of the region.
In August 2019, the Indian government, revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by abrogating Article 370 and Article 35A through a Presidential Order and a subsequent resolution passed by the Parliament.
This move led to significant changes in the political and constitutional landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, transforming it into two separate Union Territories: Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Discuss the rationale behind article 35A of Indian Constitution. Did it abrogate the fundamental rights of other citizens?