Opposition National Conference on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the decision of the Central Government to not file a written response to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court challenging Article 35-A of the Constitution of India. Article 35A of the Constitution of India empowers the Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir to define ‘Permanent Residents’ of the State and subsequently empowers the Legislature to provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.

In a statement, senior NC leaders Ali Muhammad Sagar, Abdul Rahim Rather, Muhammad Shafi Uri, Nasir Aslam Wani and Devender Singh Rana have said the Central government’s decision to remain ambiguous on the very sensitive issue indicated a political intention to support and patronise those forces that want to use the judicial route to launch an assault on Article 35-A and Article 370 of the Constitution of India.

“It is the responsibility of the Central government and the Attorney General to respond to such PIL in a transparent, unambiguous and unequivocal manner and that has clearly not happened,” the NC leaders said.

“The decision of the Attorney General to not file a written counter-response to the PIL before it was referred to the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court has raised many red flags and yet again points towards the fact that the powers that be in New Delhi are patronising and supporting such moves to question Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and State Subject Law. It is evident that the Central government wants to abstain from taking a clear position on this issue, an approach which is dangerous and could lead to irreparable damage to the state’s special status and its State Subject Law,” they pointed out.

The NC leaders said the recent extension of the GST regime to J&K through a Presidential Order was the most recent instance when the PDP-BJP alliance government, along with the Centre had, had inflicted an irreparable harm to the state’s autonomy and special status.