The government’s top law officer will help the Supreme Court with regard to the legal aspects of Article 35A of the Constitution under which special rights and privileges are granted to the “permanent residents” of the state, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said today. “There are 4-5 cases on 35A in the Supreme Court. These are only legal issues. The Attorney General will help the Supreme Court,” Mehrishi told PTI here. The Supreme Court last month had asked the Centre to file a reply to a writ petition filed by an NGO seeking that Article 35A be struck down. The petition said the state government, under the guise of Article 35A and Article 370, which grants special status to the state, has been discriminating against non-residents who are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections. Article 35A was added to the Constitution by a Presidential order in 1954. Article 370 grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir while Article 35A empowers the state legislature to define the states “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges.
While the Jammu and Kashmir government contested the petition saying the president had the power to incorporate a new provision in the Constitution by way of an order, the Centre recently expressed its reservations. It filed a reply and requested the three-judge bench to refer the matter to a larger bench as constitutional issues were involved in the case.
The issue has generated a huge debate in Kashmir, with several mainstream parties and separatists warning against abrogation of the Article 35A.