Article 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir will take over the news air for awhile. The President has made an Order! The abolishment of these Articles ushers a new era in India. What does this mean for the union territories and the people of India?
The State of Jammu & Kashmir will no longer be a state. It will be bifurcated in 2 union territories- Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh– The proposed bill aims to make Jammu & Kashmir a Union Territory with Legislature and Ladakh a Union Territory without Legislature.
Before 2019, the President made an Order for permanent residents in the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954. The region of Jammu and Kashmir were given special permission and special status.
What is the Issue with J&K?
The issue started from the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. They have the right to recommend while relying on the Indian Constitution to abrogate Article 370. But the Constituent Assembly created State Constitution and subsequently failed to recommend an abrogation of the said article.
The result was the permanent inclusion of the said section in the Constitution.
What introduced Article 35A to the discussion? Article 35A by definition provides that Jammu and Kashmir residents would live under different laws. These laws would cover ownership of property, permanent residency, and citizenship, fundamental rights, etc.
It also added that Indian citizens who are not from Jammu and Kashmir cannot own, acquire, buy, or purchase property in Jammu and Kashmir.
What is Article 370 of the Constitution About? (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954
Jammu and Kashmir accession to the union of India is as a result of Article 370. It came at a time when the two states were asked to elect after the British rule and Independence of 1947 either to join Pakistan or India.
By 1949, Article 370 became effective and excluded Jammu and Kashmir from the Indian Constitution. This became a privilege and the privilege came with making laws in all matters.
The matters excluded were defence, communications, finance, and foreign affairs. But matters allowed included separate flags, separate constitution, denial of property ownership by persons who are not permanent residents or citizens of the region.
The summary of Article 370 was a separate state with separate laws and rule of governorship from India. The best word for Article 370 is a privilege and state autonomy.
Article 35A of the Constitution explained (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954
Article 35A commonly referred to as the permanent Residents Law is a discriminatory and terrible section of the law which comes to limitations. The Article allowed Kashmir’s local legislature to define what is permanent residency and who they are.
It stipulated that persons who are born outside Jammu and Kashmir cannot become citizens of these regions. This means that they cannot permanently settle; they cannot hold local government jobs; they cannot win educational scholarships in the region; they cannot buy, acquire, own, or purchase land.
The land ownership is hinged on women and the women’s children who marry outside the state. That means that for 70 years, the Article could not be abrogated and the discrimination continued. But on 5th August 2019, the President chose to repeal and revoke the Order.
The Historical Background Explained
Jammu and Kashmir is a predominantly Muslim state. They have always strived to maintain such. The build-up of becoming the only state that is secluded and procreates inclusively barred others from permanently setting there. This had led to several petitions and a call to abolish the discriminatory section.
Today, on August 5th, 2019, Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, issued an order revoking the Constitutional Order of 1954. This revocation renders Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution of India ineffective and scrapped. This applies to Jammu and Kashmir.
This Constitutional Order that is revoked brings to an end the autonomy and special status enjoyed by Kashmir for seven (7) years. With this new order, tensions are building up including deployment of military troops with uprising places.
It is expected that rival Pakistan will also join 7,000,000 people including the region with Muslim majority will join to increase the tension in the air. There is currently, a proposition for a Bill to divide Jammu and Kashmir into two different union territories by Hindu Nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party.
This division will be ruled by New Delhi. On Sunday, all leaders of pro-India were placed on house arrest, cable networks, and internet services, mobile services were deactivated and cut off. The goal was to curb the tension.
Jammu and Kashmir ultimately know that the abolishment may move the Muslim dominated state to a Hindu dominated state and that is not what they want.
The Impact of this Decision
Today’s decision was an unprecedented and unexpected move in the history of India. But it is the best move in the right direction. While the country is in a state of an uprising and skeptical tension, there are positive impacts to be counted from this decision. They include:
- Citizens or people who are considered outsiders by the Jammu and Kashmir state will have the right to settle permanently in Jammu and Kashmir without any fear or favour.
- People who are considered outsiders will have the right to own, buy, acquire, or purchase property in Jammu and Kashmir as the special status of this state has been revoked and repealed.
- The state of Kashmir may see a demographical shift from a region dominated by Muslim to a region dominated by Hindu.
- Outsiders or residents of Jammu and Kashmir who are not citizens or persons born into this State can take local government jobs, receive the regional educational scholarship and participate in all activities like citizens and permanent residents of the State.
- The State of Jammu and Kashmir is now divided into union territories governed by New Delhi.
- With the abrogation, Kashmir will be open for a type of state independence led by Palestine. This is one of the first legal challenges the state will face.
- Another challenge will be political. This challenge will be on the constitutional basis of the revocation and dissolution of the said Articles. Does the President have the right to do so? Can the Supreme Court allow such Presidential Order or will it stand for the people? If the Supreme Court will stand for the people, will it be the People of India or the People of Jammu and Kashmir? Standing for the latter means that the Court is tolerating the discrimination and that is not justice.
There are more positive reactions to expect but for now, the people of India will rejoice at this Order.