BY SUMIT SAXENA
New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) The Centre has technically read down the Article 370 in the Constitution. Article 35A has been scrapped by suspension of the 1954 presidential order and all the provisions of the Constitution are now applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.
After the erosion of its distinct identity, Article 370 will apparently begin a new association with the law of the country through various articles in the Constitution and its identity as a Union Territory. As a result, the Centre has spelt out that 106 laws shall be applied to the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir under the fifth schedule.
The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas as well as of Scheduled Tribes residing in any State other than the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
These laws will include Hindu Succession, Hindu Marriage Act & other property inheritance laws, and along with IPC, CrPC.
Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, who specialises on the Constitution, said “This is a very crucial transitional phase for the state as it gets reorganized into a Union Territory (UT). After declaring J&K a UT, the Centre has powers to declare laws for it too, for example, the RTI, the Hindu Marriage Act etc., as J&K has been integrated into the Constitution.”
Article 35A played a crucial role in protecting the laws of Jammu and Kashmir — land ownership, scholarships and job — which favoured the ‘state subjects’. Moreover, the laws could not be questioned on the infringement of fundamental rights of non-state subjects and citizens of India.
The special status of J&K meant that only two Articles of the Constitution will apply to the state – Article 1 which defines India and Article 370 itself. After, the issuance of Gazette notification, J&K is fully integrated into the Constitution.
Jammu and Kashmir, after emerging as a UT, could attract the Article 3 of the Constitution, which provides the avenue for creation of a new state or re-draws boundaries through a bill tabled in Parliament on the President’s recommendation after holding consultation with the legislatures of the affected state.
“The autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir shielded it from the application of Article 3, which was used to create new state like Telangana. Now, if Centre wants, new boundaries can be drawn,” added Dwivedi.
The Centre, through amendment, has introduced quota for economically weaker sections. The Centre has repealed 153 state laws and amended seven laws. “These laws are automatically applicable after being ratified by Parliament. Information on these was included in the annexure of the Bill,” said PDT Achary, former Secretary General of the Lok Sabha.
Another expert on the Constitution believes that the implementation of new set of laws in Jammu and Kashmir should integrate it with the Union of India, preserving customs and traditions of the erstwhile state.
“This is a teething phase for the state as it readies to reorganize as UT. The implementation of laws is a major task and it should also take into consideration the customs, traditions and the distinct culture of the state,” said Narendra Hooda, senior advocate and Constitution expert.