The government announced the abolishment of Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution along with bifurcation of the state of J&K into two separate union territories: J&K and Ladakh.
This wave of shock came after a meeting was held by Prime Minister- Narendra Modi along with Home Minister- Amit Shah and National Security Advisor- Ajit Doyal. This meeting was held after mobile internet services were suspended in J&K in view of the prevailing security situation in the region. The government had imposed the provision of section 144, which prevents the gathering of more than four people in the area. Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Sajad Lone - the three most prominent and influential politicians from Jammu and Kashmir - were placed under house arrest last night.
Article 370 and Article 35A of the Indian Constitution
- Article 370 empowers a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, while Article 35A empowers the state legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges.
- Article 370 empowers J&K with its own constitution and decision making power for all matters except defence, communications and foreign affairs.
- There are certain provisions in the Indian Constitution: - temporary, transitional and special. Temporary is the weakest.
- Article 370 of the Indian Constitution claims to be a 'temporary provision'.
- Under Part 21 of the Constitution of India, which deals with "Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions", the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special autonomous status under Article 370.
- Therefore, all the provisions of the Constitution, which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K.
- This issue of ‘temporary provision’ was covered by the judgment of the Supreme Court in the 2017 SARFAESI matter, where it was held that despite the head-note of Article 370, it is not a temporary provision, rather, it holds the power of a ‘special provision’.
- Article 370 made it necessary for the centre to get the state legislature's approval for introducing any policy or constitutional powers to the state
- However, this Article is not barred from a debate on the floor of the Parliament. Also, the validity of Article 370 has been questioned time and again.
- Hence, the removal of Article 370 will end the special status given to J&K in order to prevail the security situation fueled by cross-border terrorism.
- Further, the Home Minister introduced the Jammu and Kashmir (reorganisation) Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
And as to the decision of the government relating to the bifurcation of the state of J&K into two union territories (semi-states), J&K would be one union territory, and Ladakh would be the other. However, J&K would have its own legislature and assembly like in the case of Delhi and Puducherry, and Ladakh; without its own legislature.
In order to counter this, Pakistani President Arif Alvi stated that “India's attempt to further change the status of Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir is against the resolutions of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) & against wishes of the Kashmiri people. Pakistan supports & insists on a peaceful resolution based on wishes of Kashmiri people & stands with them in their hour of need."
Further Pakistani foreign ministry states that no unilateral step by the Government of India can change this disputed status, as enshrined in the UNSC resolutions. Nor will this ever be acceptable to the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan. As the party to this international dispute, Pakistan will exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps in order to support the people of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir for realization of their inalienable right to self- determination.