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SC Lists Pending Pleas Challenging Provisions of Articles 370 & 35-A before Constitution Bench

While the provisions of Article 370 granted special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35-A provided special rights and privileges to natives of the state.


Updated:October 24, 2019, 7:19 PM IST
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SC Lists Pending Pleas Challenging Provisions of Articles 370 & 35-A before Constitution Bench
Supreme Court. (Image: Network18 Creatives)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday said the petitions challenging the validity of provisions of Article 370, which was abrogated by the Centre on August 5, and Article 35-A would be dealt with by its 5-judge Constitution bench which is hearing the Kashmir matter.

While the provisions of Article 370 granted special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, Article 35-A provided special rights and privileges to natives of the state.

NGO 'We The Citizens' had filed a petition in the apex court in 2014 challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A. Later, six other pleas were filed in the top court on the issue.

Similarly, Kumari Vijayalakshmi Jha had filed an appeal in the top court in 2017 against the Delhi High Court verdict rejecting her plea challenging the validity of Article 370.

The Constitution bench recently fixed November 14 to commence hearing on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Centre's decision to abrogate the provisions of Article 370.

When these pleas came up for hearing on Thursday before a 3-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana, the court said that these matters were old and there was no urgency to hear them.

"When the Constitution bench will decide the Article 370 issue, we think these petitions might not survive," said the bench, also comprising justices R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai.

"These matters should not come in the way of the hearing on petitions (challenging validity of Centre's decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370)," the bench said.

The apex court later said that these pleas be posted for hearing along with the petitions pending before the constitution bench.

"Let these matters be posted along with the constitution bench matters...which are coming up for hearing on Thursday, the November 14, 2019," the bench said in its order.

The top court also said that a separate plea filed by CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who has referred to other issues that have arisen in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370, would also be heard by the Constitution bench.

In her petition, Jha has claimed that the high court had dismissed her plea by "wrongly following and misreading" the earlier judgement of the apex court.

She had contended in the high court that Article 370 was a temporary provision that had lapsed with the dissolution of the state's Constituent Assembly in 1957.

In July 2014, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea challenging the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir and had asked the petitioner to move the high court.

Similarly, the NGO and six other petitioners have moved the apex court challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A.

Article 35A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state.

It denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.

Besides the NGO, the other petitioners on the matter are West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee Cell 1947, Dr Charu Wali Khanna, Kali Dass, Radhika Gill, Reapan Tikoo and Major Ramesh Upadhyay.

The five-judge constitution bench had on October 1 given four weeks to the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file counter-affidavits on the petitions and had also put an embargo on filing of any fresh writ petition challenging the constitutional validity on abrogation of Article 370.

Some of the petitioners had told the constitution bench that they have filed pleas challenging the existence of provisions of Articles 370 and 35-A according special status to J&K before the Centre came out with the decision to abrogate them.

Several political parties including the National Conference (NC), the Sajjad Lone-led J&K Peoples Conference and CPI (M) leader Mohd Yousuf Tarigami have filed pleas in the top court challenging the Centre's August 5 decision.

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