“Interlocutor” To Deal With Art 35 A Issue, Says AG; SC Gives Centre Three Months Time

The Supreme Court today adjourned the hearing on a slew of petitions challenging Article 35 A which conferred special rights and privileges to citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir after Attorney General K K Venugopal for the Centre said an interlocutor has been appointed who is dealing with it.

It included petitions filed by NGO  ‘We the Citizen’ and advocate Charu Wali Khanna.

Venugopal sought adjournment by six months to form a “firm opinion” but a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra gave the government three months.

The bench had on August 14, last date of hearing said the issue may be dealt with by a five-judge constitution bench as it involved challenge to provision of the constitution.

“If this matter requires to be heard by a five-judge constitution bench, then the three-judge bench which will hear the matter may refer it,” the bench had said. During the hearing, counsel for Jammu and Kashmir government told the bench that the issue of Article 35 A has been “prima facie settled” by the state high court in its verdict passed in 2002.

Khanna is challenging Article 35 A of the Constitution and Section 6 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution which deal with the “permanent residents” of the state. The plea has challenged certain provisions of the Constitution which deny property right to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which makes such women from the state to lose rights over property, also applies to her son.

Article 35 A, which was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of the Jammu and Kashmir. It also empowers the state’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other states or any other right under the Indian Constitution.