Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani today said Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir, was part of the Constitution’s basic structure which “nobody can touch” and claimed BJP was now “quiet” on it as he had explained its importance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Article 370 is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution because we have incorporated it in accordance of the wishes of the then Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir.
“It is now a final article which nobody can touch. It is the understanding of the Kashmir Committee that this kind of a thing (repealing of Article 370) is out of question,” Jethmalani told reporters here.
However, the Rajya Sabha MP said that the successive state governments in Jammu and Kashmir never raised any objections to modifications made to the Article from time to time.
“There were no objections from JK government ever to any modifications on Article 370. If you do not like any amendments, vomit it out, but democratically,” he said.
The former BJP leader, who was expelled from the party in May, said he had explained the importance of the Article 370 to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP has “kept quiet” about it since then.
“BJP was always talking about Article 370, some of them don’t even understand the Constitution of India at all. Modi has been explained the importance of Article 370 and that it cannot be repealed. I have told him to explain it to the BJP people to not speak about it. The BJP has kept quiet.
“Unfortunately, when they came to power, a minister, who is from Jammu, talked about its repeal and please take it that Modi gave him a tongue-lashing and told him that never again talk about it. He has since then not talked about it,” he said.
Jethmalani said the people of Jammu and Kashmir were “not living under the Constitution of India but their own constitution and in a way enjoyed a plebiscite”.
“The usual slogan is that India had promised the will of the people should be determined by a plebiscite. References are given to the UN resolution.
“It is true that the UN did order a plebiscite but it was to take place when the last intruder from Pakistan vacated the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, including that portion that today is not in our occupation. That thing never happened. The plebiscite was to take place under the Indian flag over the whole of the state.
“India kept its promise that we will not allow the demographic character of JK to change. That’s why we never allow any Indian to come to JK and purchase land here. On the other hand, the whole demography on the other part has gone.
“The promise was to the generation that existed at that time. The promise was not to the totally changed populace. The UN itself had gone into this and what is being forgotten is that Sir Owen Dickson examined this matter and came to the conclusion that plebiscite is no longer a feasible proposition,” he said.
Jethmalani said Jammu and Kashmir, unlike any other states of the country, got its own Constituent Assembly in 1951 and the constitution of the state was not formulated by the constituent assembly of India.
“The constitution of this state was not formulated by the constituent assembly of India, but by its constituent Assembly itself. That was a plebiscite. It is the constituent assembly of JK which incorporated some provisions of the Indian Constitution. The plebiscite has therefore taken place,” he said.