Key facts about Article 35A and why Supreme Court will entertain pleas against it this week 

File photo of the Supreme Court. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 25, 2019, 12.25 PM (IST)

The Supreme Court of India is expected to hear pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Article 35A this week. According to reports, the apex court will entertain the pleas between February 26 and 28, news agency ANI reported. 

The petition was originally filed by a Delhi-based NGO 'We the citizen', stating that Jammu and Kashmir's autonomous status granted by Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution discriminates against fellow citizens from the rest of the country.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday maintained that it is firm on its stand on the Article and seeks deferment of hearing.

Addressing a press conference, senior bureaucrat Rohit Kansal, who has been designated as the chief spokesperson of the governor's administration, said, "The stand of the state government on the request of deferment of hearing on Article 35A in the Supreme Court remains the same as requested by them on February 11."

Article 35A grants special privileges to Jammu & Kashmir. Here's a quick look at what the Article stands for. 

Understanding Article 35A

Article 35A is a provision in the Constitution that empowers the legislature of Jammu and Kashmir to define "permanent residents" of the state.

Permanent residents of the state are given special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the state, scholarships, and other public aid and welfare.

The provision mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law of the land.

The J&K legislature can alter the definition of "permanent resident" only through a law passed by a two-thirds majority.

The history

Article 35A was added through the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954, issued under Article 370.

It was incorporated into the Constitution by an order by then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.

The petition 

A Delhi-based NGO, We the Citizens, challenges the validity of both Article 35A and Article 370, arguing that four representatives from Kashmir were part of the Constituent Assembly involved in the drafting of the Constitution and that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was never accorded any special status under the Constitution. 

It contends that Article 370 was only a "temporary provision" to help bring normalcy to Jammu and Kashmir and strengthen democracy in the state. And that the writers of the Constitution did not intend Article 370 to be a tool to bring about permanent amendments - like Article 35A - in the Constitution

The petition states that Article 35A is against the “very spirit of oneness of India” as it creates a “class within a class of Indian citizens”, and that stopping citizens of other states from finding employment or buying property in Jammu and Kashmir is a violation of fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

Story highlights

According to the Article, the permanent residents of the state are given special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the state, scholarships, and other public aid and welfare.