A gust of developments in Kashmir has triggered panic and rumours among political leaders and locals in the Valley. Though the state governor has tried to put down the assumptions, many fear the developments were part of an ‘effort’ to repeal Articles 370 and 35A. The two have a potential to intensify the unrest in the region that has amplified since a vehicle laden with explosives rammed into a police convoy on February 14, killing 40 paramilitary personnel.
On the night of 4th August Prominent local leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have taken to twitter claiming they are being put under house arrest. Government has imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in the valley halting telecom services.
Home Minister Amit Shah in an earlier statement had pointed that Article 370was a ‘temporary provision’. Here’s why Article 370 is such a contentious issue at this moment.
What is Article 370?
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ which grants special autonomous status to Jammu & Kashmir. Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special status under Art370. All the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K. For example, till 1965, J&K had a Sadr-e-Riyasat for governor and prime minister in place of the chief minister.
History of Article 370
The provision was drafted in 1947 by Sheikh Abdullah, who had by then been appointed prime minister of Jammu & Kashmir by Maharaja Hari Singh and Jawahar Lal Nehru. Sheikh Abdullah had argued that Article 370 should not be placed under temporary provisions of the Constitution. He wanted ‘iron clad autonomy’ for the state, which Centre didn’t comply with.
Provisions of Article 370
According to this article, except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir. Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. It can declare an emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Union government can therefore not declare emergency on grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger unless it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the state government.
The validity of Article 370 has been questioned time and again. Can it be debated on the floor of the Parliament? Well, yes. Experts have said that it is temporary in nature and avenues to change it are yet to be explored by lawmakers. Constitution expert and former Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap said this Article is not barred from a debate on the floor of the Parliament. “Article 370 under the Constitution has been ascribed as a temporary provision and not a special provision. There are provisions in the Constitution – temporary, transitional and special. Temporary is the weakest.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on 5th August 2019, Home Minister Amit Shah announced on Monday that Article 370 which grants special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be scrapped.
- The home minister also announced that Jammu and Kashmir will no longer be a state and it will be bifurcated in two UTs— J&K and Ladakh.
- Jammu and Kashmir will be a Union Territory with a legislature.
- Ladakh will a Union Territory without a legislature.