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J-K | Hari Singh kin gives new twist to controversy over Article 35A

Martand Singh, the great-grandson of Maharaja Hari Singh who introduced the state subject law on 20 April 1927 in Jammu and Kashmir and whom the Kashmir-centric political parties and separatists are invoking in a bid to defend the Article 35A, says the Constitutional provision is discriminatory towards women

SP Sharma | Jammu |

The ongoing controversy surrounding Article 35A got a new twist on Tuesday when Martand Singh, a descendant of the then ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, said the Constitutional provision was discriminatory towards women in Jammu and Kashmir.

Martand Singh is the great-grandson of the Maharaja who introduced the state subject law on 20 April 1927 in Jammu and Kashmir, and whom the Kashmir-centric political parties and separatists are invoking in a bid to defend the Article 35A.

Maharaja Hari Singh, however, had nothing to do with the Article 35A that was introduced in the Constitution of India through a Presidential order on 14 May 1954 when the monarchy ended and a duly elected government was in place at the Centre and also in J&K.

READ | What is Article 35A? The history, the debate and the gravity

Commenting on the controversy generated on the controversial Article 35A, Martand Singh in a tweet elaborated the flaws and said the Article was a roadblock for investment and economic growth of the state besides discriminating against J&K women.

He said opposition was not to the special status but to the above practices emanating from 35A. Failure of the state legislature to address these led to the current scenario, he added.

READ | Shutdown over Article 35A cripples life across Kashmir for second day

After the Supreme Court deferred on Monday hearing on the petitions challenging Constitutional validity of Article 35A, National Conference spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu, tweeted: “The deferment of the hearing on petition challenging Article 35A doesn’t remove the sense of anxiety and the apprehensions in J&K. In the absence of the Central Government defending the Article through a counter affidavit—the challenge to the state’s special status remains.”

Social activist Manu Khajuria says the gender-biased interpretation of 35A should be reviewed and women should get equal permanent resident rights at par with men. “If the male’s permanent rights are not curtailed if they marry a non-state subject, let it be the same for female permanent residents,” she said.

READ | Article 35A is like nikahnama, you repeal it and the relationship is over: IAS officer Shah Faesal

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “Even though the deferment of hearing on Article 35A is not a solution, it has brought interim relief to the people of JK. But with uncertainty looming over its status, it has unleashed a wave of anxiety and panic amongst the people of J&K.”