Supreme Court Spotlight: Article 35A Faces Rigorous Scrutiny Amid Article 370 Hearings

A renewed focus has been cast on the age-old Article 35A amid the ongoing Article 370 hearings

The Union government and the Chief Justice of India, D.Y. Chandrachud, have jointly expressed doubts about Article 35A’s discriminatory nature.

Expanding on the matter, it was revealed that the article safeguards J&K residents’ special rights at the cost of others.

Article 35A Under The Microscope

Article 35A, a seemingly ingenuous element of the Indian Constitution, came under acute judicial scrutiny during recent Article 370 hearings.

Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud noted how the article, endowed with the purpose of giving special rights, is paradoxically curbing the fundamental rights of the non-residents.

“Article 35A gave special rights to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir and virtually took away the rights of non-residents. These rights included the right to equal state employment opportunity, the right to acquire property and the right to settle in J&K,” the CJI observed.

Article 35A was infused into the Indian Constitution under a presidential order in 1954 pursuant to Article 370.

Solicitor general, Tushar Mehta, shared the sentiment, pointing out that original mistakes should not hamper future generations.

The Aftermath of August 5, 2019

The Union government’s decision on August 5, 2019, to read down Article 370 has had a significant influence.

Allegedly, post the decision, the state has experienced an economic boom in terms of investments and tourism.

Tushar Mehta emphasized the league role of the parliament during the President’s rule, implying that the parliament is bestowed with state legislative capabilities under Article 356(1)(b). 

However, his attempt to parallel the individual parliament members’ ideologies got countered by the CJI.

Taking a step back from the constitutional jargon, one cannot overlook the congress around Zahoor Ahmad Bhat’s suspension, a lecturer who faced backlash after expressing his concerns over the reading down of Article 370. 

India’s democratic and constitutional attributes are under the Supreme Spotlight, as Article 35A faces rigorous scrutiny amidst the ongoing Article 370 hearings.

The heated debate only highlights the crucial role the judiciary plays in the bigger democratic framework.

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