Article 35(A): Hearing Adjourned Till January 2019


SRINAGAR: The Supreme Court of India has adjourned the hearing of a series of petitions regarding Article 35(A) again. The case is now listed for early January 2019, reports reaching from Delhi said.

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The apex court’s three-judge bench presided over by the chief justice of India Justice Deepak Mishra heard the arguments of the petitioners and the counsels for the defendants, the J&K government and the Attorney General, Government of India and finally deferred the hearing of the case till  January 2019. Now the Supreme Court will take up the case for hearing on January 19, 2019. This is the third adjournment of the case in a month.

The petition filed by a right-wing NGO We the Citizens. The Court finally clubbed many other petitions regarding the same issue. But the case has created a serious issue across the state. Kashmir is right now on strike since Thursday against any possible tinkering in the article of the constitution that protects the identity of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Authorities have imposed restrictions in parts of the city to prevent violence. A few thousand marriage ceremonies slated otherwise for August 30 and 31, were cancelled because of the lurking dangers associated with the hearing of the case.

The Article 35A of the Constitution of India protects Jammu and Kashmir’s legislature’s right to define the states ‘permanent residents’ and their rights. It is being seen as a key protection to state distinct identity and various ethnicities living in Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir.

The courtroom, reports from Delhi said, was crowded by the lawyers from Jammu and Kashmir. The High Court Bar Association in Srinagar had flown a huge battery of lawyers to defend the case. These included Zaffar A Shah, a senior lawyer whose daughter is being married today. Almost all the political parties have prayed before the court that they be taken at parties. They all have hired the lawyers to defend their position.

A huge battery of lawyers from Jammu had flown to Delhi and they insisted the case be taken up.

The attorneys of the state and the central government’s pleaded before the bench that the state was in the middle of preparations for the local body polls and the case has the potential of a serious crisis in Jammu and Kashmir. The stand was effectively pleaded by lawyers Tushar Mehta and the attorney general K K Venugopal. The lawyers of the petitioners insisted that the case should be heard, the bench insisted that since the provision has been there since 1954, they better wait for some more time. The bench ruled the case will be taken up in the second week of January 2019.

State government’s advocate on record M Shoeb Alam has moved a formal application seeking an adjournment in the case regarding 35A. The Supreme Court has clubbed four cases together. These include the petition filed by NGO We the Citizens (WP 722 of 2014), West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee (WP 871 of 2015), Dr Cahru Wali Khanna (WP 396 of 2017, Kali Dar V/S Union of India (WP 871 of 2017) and Radhika Gill versus Union of India (WP 398 of 2018).

“The undersigned will be seeking an adjournment in the aforesaid matter on 31-08-2018 on account of the ongoing preparations for the upcoming Panchayat / Urban local body and municipal elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the application reads.

The central government supported the state government’s stand and insisted the hearing in the case be adjourned.


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