The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the hearing on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A on the ground that one of the judges in the three-judge bench was not present and that the matter needs to be heard by a larger bench.
The court adjourned the hearing in the week commencing 27 August.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud was to hear the pleas. Justice Chandrachud was however not present in today’s hearing.
Observing that the apex court has to consider whether Article 35-A goes against the basic structure of the Constitution, CJI Misra said, “Article 35-A did not come in the Constitution a day ago and a two-judge bench cannot hear it.”
“Once you have challenged the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, it has to go before a Constitution bench. A three-judge bench will determine it. A three-judge bench has been dealing with it,” the CJI said.
“A three-judge bench will consider whether it has to go before a Constitution bench,” he said.
The CJI also said that the SC will hear the Attorney General of India as Jammu and Kashmir government “may not have much to say”. But the Jammu and Kashmir counsel opposed the observation.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had on 3 August moved the apex court seeking adjournment of today’s hearing citing the upcoming local body elections.
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 a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their rights over property also applies to their heirs.
Several interlocutory petitions have been filed in support of Article 35-A by various individuals and civil society groups seeking continuance of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
“Protecting #Article35A is a tacit acceptance that J&K’s future lies within the Constitution of India otherwise how would it matter if it were struck down or diluted?” wrote former J-K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Twitter.
Protecting #Article35A is a tacit acceptance that J&K’s future lies within the Constitution of India otherwise how would it matter if it were struck down or diluted?
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) August 6, 2018
Commenting on Article 35-A, Kavinder Gupta, the former Deputy CM of J-K and a member of the BJP, said, “The matter is sub-judice and the Opposition should not make noise on it. Article 35-A separates Kashmir from India and people should respect whatever decision is given by the Supreme Court.”
But IAS officer Shah Faesal triggered a hornet’s nest with his comment on Article 35-A. In a series of tweets, he compared the Article to a marriage-deed arguing that repealing it would signal the end of the relationship between India and Jammu-Kashmir.
“I would compare Article 35A to a marriage-deed/nikahnama. You repeal it and the relationship is over. Nothing will remain to be discussed afterwards,” he said in a tweet.
(With inputs from agencies.)