As L K Advani wished for abrogation of Article 370, Omar Abdullah threatened it can only happen on our dead bodies. The ‘article of faith’ that once defined the formal constitutional relationship between J&K and New Delhi, has nothing much left to offer any huge distinction to J&K. Revisiting the chequerered history of centre-state relationship, Shah Abbas argues that two bald men should skip fighting over a comb.
The then Union Home minister, Gulzari Lal Nanda had said in December, 1964 that Article 370 could well be used to serve as a “tunnel in the wall” in order to increase the centre’s powers in Jammu and Kashmir.
After “surrendering” plebiscite and finally autonomy, late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, introduced the slogan of “Chon Yezath, Meon Yezath, 370”.
Article 370 is now a mere hallow Act in the Indian constitution and it has been diluted to the extent that to a majority of experts and commentators, calling it “Yezath”(Respect) any more seems to be the biggest “Baizatti” (Disrespect) to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The analysts, commentators and experts are of the view that when there is nothing left in the Article 370 then what is the purpose of even talking about it as Omar Abdullah did at Banihal and subsequently reacted by LK Advani. The war of words between the two seems like bald men quarreling over a comb.
“The case of abrogation of Article 370 of the constitution of India which is being debated fiercely in realty is much ado about nothing,” well known constitutional expert, Advocate Tassaduq Hussain, told Kashmir Life.
Article 370 of the Indian constitution grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir.
According to it, the provisions of Article 238 (now repealed) shall not apply in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, the power of Parliament to make laws for J&K shall be limited to; (i) those matters in the Union List and the Concurrent List which, in consultation with the Government of the State, are declared by the President to correspond to matters specified in the Instrument of Accession governing the accession of the State to the Dominion of India as the matters with respect to which the Dominion Legislature may make laws for that State; and (ii) such other matters in the said Lists, as, with the concurrence of the Government of the State, the President may by order specify.
The provisions of this article shall apply in relation to this State and such of the other provisions of this (Indian) Constitution shall apply in relation to that State subject to such exceptions and modifications as the President may by order specify: Provided that no such order which relates to the matters specified in the Instrument of Accession of the State referred to in paragraph (i) of sub-clause (b) shall be issued except in consultation with the Government of the State:
Provided further that no such order which relates to matters other than those referred to in the last preceding provison shall be issued except with the concurrence of the Government.
This article specifies that except for Defense, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications,(matters specified in the instrument of accession) the Indian Parliament needs the State Government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state’s residents lived under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians.
Similar protections for unique status exist in tribal areas of India including those in Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Nagaland. The Government of India vide 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord committed itself to keeping the relationship between the Union and Jammu and Kashmir State within the ambit of this article .
The 1974 Indira-Sheikh accord mentions that “The State of Jammu and Kashmir which is a constituent unit of the Union of India, shall, in its relation with the Union, continue to be governed by Article 370 of the Constitution of India”.