What is Article 370? Constitutional provision that provides special status to Jammu and Kashmir

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Updated: Aug 05, 2019 4:23 PM

What is Article 370 Meaning, Article 370 Explanation: Included in the Indian Constitution on October 17, 1949, Article 370 granted the state of Jammu and Kashmir a special status and allowed it an exemption from the Constitution of India, permitting it to draft its own Constitution

Article 370 Meaning, Article 370 ExplanationSheikh Abdullah and Jawaharlal Nehru announces in Srinagar that Kashmir would be part of India. (Express Archive)

Article 370 Kashmir, What is Article 370: On Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah moved a historic resolution in Rajya Sabha to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution granting special autonomous status to the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Home Minister also proposed bifurcating the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir which will have a legislature, and Ladakh, which will be without one. This comes hours after Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was imposed in several districts Jammu and Kashmir, mobile phone and internet services were shut down and several local party leaders of the valley including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were put on house arrest.

What is Article 370

The article was included in the Indian Constitution on October 17, 1949, and granted it a special status which allowed the state an exemption from the Constitution of India and permitted it to draft its own Constitution, granting it some autonomy.

Article 370 though a “temporary provision” restricted the Parliament’s power in Jammu and Kashmir, unlike other states governed by the Indian Union. However, it granted the central government authority over matters of external affairs, defence and communication of the state. Unlike other states, the Centre did not have the power to alter the boundaries of the state.

Article 35A of the Indian Constitution, which stemmed out of Article 370, gave powers to the state Assembly to define permanent residents of the state, their special rights and privileges. It also stated that the non-permanent residents could not acquire immovable property in Jammu and Kashmir, or apply and get government employment, scholarships or other aids provided by the state government.

However, in certain ways, Article 370 also reduced J&K’s powers in comparison to other states. In fact the Centre has used Article 370 a number of times to amend a number of provisions of Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution.

History of Article 370

The draft of the Article was prepared after then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru set the ball in motion and directed Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah to consult then Law Minister BR Ambedkar to draft it. Eventually, Gopalaswami Ayyangar, a Member of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution and a union minister, drafted Article 370 in Amendment of the Constitution section, in Part XXI, under Temporary and Transitional Provisions.

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The original draft of Article 370 stated, “the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s Proclamation dated the fifth day of March, 1948.”

However, in 1952, 15th November the draft was changed to, “the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Sadr-i-Riyasat (now Governor) of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the State for the time being in office.”

Right after Independence in 1947, when British India got divided into India and Pakistan, there were nearly 600 princely states in the country, Kashmir was one of them. These states were given three options – to remain an independent country, join Dominion of India, or join Dominion of Pakistan.

The then ruler of Kashmir Raja Hari Singh decided to remain independent and sign agreements with both India and Pakistan. But right afterwards an invasion happened in Kashmir by tribes and Army of Pakistan, when Hari Singh sought India’s help – which in turn led to the accession of Kashmir to India. On October 26, 1947, he signed the Instrument of Accession, which the Governor General Lord Mountbatten accepted and Kashmir became a part of India.

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