Article 35A-Issue Explained
Article 35A of the Indian Constitution is an article that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.
It is added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order, i.e., The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 – issued by the President of India, “in exercise of the powers conferred by” clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution, with the concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
Discussions for furthering the relationship between the State and the Union continued, culminating in the 1952 Delhi Agreement, whereby the governments of the State and the Union agreed that Indian citizenship would be extended to all the residents of the state but the state would be empowered to legislate over the rights and privileges of the state subjects, who would now be called permanent residents.
Text of the Article
“Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights. — Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, no existing law in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State:
(a) defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be, permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; or
(b) conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects—
(i) employment under the State Government;
(ii) acquisition of immovable property in the State;
(iii) settlement in the State; or
(iv) right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide,
shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part.”
- There are various Articles in the Constitution, that similarly provide special status and rights to other Indian states, and says that no objections were raised on them.
- Since Article 370 was enacted as part of the Constitution of India Article 35A “flows inexorably” from it.
- Article 35 A protects the demographic status of the Jammu and Kashmir state in its prescribed constitutional form.
- The Parliament has no power to legislate law about the subject’s administration of justice, the land & the other immovable properties.
Article 35(A) of the Constitution of India, which has been applied to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, not only recognizes but clarifies the already existing constitutional and legal position and does not extend something new to state of Jammu and Kashmir
The legality issues are:
- Article 35A was not added to the Constitution by following the procedure prescribed for amendment of the Constitution of India under Article 368. Article 370 does not anywhere confer on the President legislative or executive powers so vast that he can amend the Constitution or perform the function of Parliament. It has been brought about by the executive organ when actually the right of amendment of the Constitution lies with the legislative organ. Therefore, it is, allegedly, ultra vires the basic structure of the Constitution since it violates the Constitutional procedures established by law.
- Besides carrying out many modifications and changes, this order ‘added’ a new “Article 35A” to the Constitution of India. Addition or deletion of an Article amounted to an amendment to the Constitution which could be done only by Parliament as per procedure laid down in Article 368. But, Article 35A was never presented before Parliament. This meant the President had bypassed Parliament in this order to addArticle 35A.
- The PRC classification created by Article 35A suffers from the violation of Article 14, Equality before the Law. The non-resident Indian citizens cannot have the rights and privileges, same as permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
- This also meant that the amending power of Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution itself was abridged in its application to Jammu and Kashmir, another amendment, without any reference to Parliament. When the President of India does not have legislative powers, he performed the function of Parliament.[
The main objections:
- It facilitates the violation of the right of women to ‘marry a man of their choice’ by not giving the heirs any right to property, if the woman marries a man not holding PRC. Therefore, her children are not given Permanent Resident Certificate and thereby considering them unfit for inheritance – not given any right to such a woman’s property even if she is a permanent resident.
- It facilitates the free and unrestrained violation of fundamental rights of those workers and settlers like Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe people who have lived there for generations. The Valmikiswho were brought to the state during 1957 were given Permanent Resident Certificates on the condition that they and their future generations could stay in the state only if they continued to be safai-karmacharis (scavengers). And even after six decades of service in the state, their children are safai-karmacharis and they have been denied the right to quit scavenging and choose any other profession.
- The industrial sector & whole private sector suffers due to the property ownership restrictions. Good doctors don’t come to the state for the same reason.
- Children of non-state subjects do not get admission to state colleges
- It ruins the status of West Pakistani refugees. Being citizens of India they are not stateless persons, but being non-permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, they cannot enjoy the basic rights and privileges as being enjoyed by permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
- It gives a free hand to the state government and politicians to discriminate between citizens of India, on an unfair basis and give preferential treatment to some by trampling over others, since the non-residents of the state are debarred from buying properties, getting a government job or voting in the local elections.