The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing on petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A which gives special status to the people of the state. The court has listed the matter for further hearing in the second week of January 2019.
"Supreme Court has deferred hearing on Article 35A, next hearing on 19 January 2019," Advocate Varun Kumar was quoted as saying by ANI.
ASG Tushar Mehta, who is representing the Jammu and Kashmir government argued before SC that "All the security agencies are engaged in the preparation of the local body elections in the state". Appearing for the Centre, AG KK Venugopal said, "Let local body elections finish in a peaceful manner".
"It was a wise and deliberate decision taken by Supreme Court. There is no harm is adjourning the case but there was a harm in continuing hearing the case as that would disrupt the local body (Panchayat) polls," Advocate Muzaffar Baig was quoted outside the court.
The decision to defer the hearing came after Government of India argued that the hearing should be postponed till Panchayat elections as there may be a breakdown of law and order in Jammu and Kashmir. The court in its response said that it will hear the petitions after Panchayat elections are over, Advocate DK Dubey told reporters.
Meanwhile, a day ahead of Friday's hearing, Jammu and Kashmir woke up to a deserted road on Thursday as all kinds of transports, educational institutions and business establishments remained closed following a shutdown call by separatists across the state.
Separatists leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), called for a two-day strike as they fear that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) along with its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will change the demography of the Valley.
A petition, which was filed by a Delhi-based NGO, We the Citizens, argued that the Article 35A and Article 370 of the Constitution discriminate among the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and rest of India. It demanded that the SC should term Article 35A “unconstitutional” as it was a “temporary provision” which came into effect immediately and was not presented before Parliament.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud, is hearing several petitions in the matter, including the one filed by We the Citizens.
The Article 35A of the Indian Constitution grants special rights and privileges to the “permanent residents” of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 35A was added to the Constitution of India in accordance with the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The Article was added through a Presidential order issued by the then President of India Rajendra Prasad on May 14, 1954.
Article 35A gives a special status to the people in Jammu and Kashmir, preventing non-locals from buying and owning any immovable property in the state.