SC puts off hearing on Article 35A to Jan 2019

SC puts off hearing on Article 35A to Jan 2019

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed a plea by the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir government to adjourn hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A as the state, which is going to local bodies polls, may face law and order problems because of the emotive issue. 

The legal provision relates to special rights and privileges of natives. 

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud posted the petitions filed by NGO 'We the Citizens' and others, for consideration in the second week of January 2019. The court explained, during the hearing, that the matter may not go before a Constitution bench just because a  constitutional provision is being challenged.

Attorney General K K Venugopal and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the state respectively, contended that the issue was sensitive and could disrupt peace. They also submitted that the state faces local bodies polls between September and December and a large number of paramilitary forces would be diverted for poll duties.

Venugopal also pointed out that around Rs 4,500 crore grant for the local bodies would lapse if the elections were not held.

Urgent hearing

However, counsel for a petitioner, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, sought urgent hearing saying persons belonging to second and third generation, born in Jammu and Kashmir, were denied admission in medical and engineering colleges.

To this, the bench pointed out that the petitioners were challenging the validity of the Presidential Order of 1954, inserting Article 35A in the Constitution, about 60 years later. Kumar shot back that a three-centuries-old practice barring entry of women to Kerala's Sabarimala temple was heard by the court now.

The petitioners also contended that the provision was never there in the original Constitution. They also argued that the issue would always remain sensitive and that should not deter the court from deciding the matter.

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