August 2017 News

Supreme Court To Examine Law Which Denies Kashmiri Women Property Rights, Should They Marry Outsiders

14 August 2017
The Economic Times
Samanwaya Rautray

New Delhi: A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court may examine a law which denies Kashmiri women and their descendants of their property rights, should they marry anyone outside the state and bars them from applying for local jobs. A Kashmiri woman has challenged this law as violative of the right to equality guaranteed to all women under the Indian Constitution. The Jammu and Kashmir legislature is empowered by Article 35A of the Indian Constitution to make special laws regarding the state. Another state law which bars outsiders from picking up property or jobs in the state is already under challenge. The top court is examining also a challenge to the special status guaranteed to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution. In its preliminary observations, a bench led by chief justice-designate Dipak Misra said the law seemed to be violative of the right to equality guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. This may have to be examined by a bench comprising five judges, he said. The plea, filed by Charu Wali Khanna, challenges the legal validity of Article 35A and also the provision in the J&K Constitution which makes this special provisions loaded against local women marrying outsiders. Article 35A, added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of the J&K, and empower the state legislature to frame separate laws for the state. 'Section 6 of the J&K Constitution restricts 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 a Permanent Resident Certificate,' the petition said. Holder of a nonpermanent resident certificate in the state can vote in Lok Sabha elections, but a woman who marries an outsider cannot even vote in local elections, it added. 'Her children are denied a permanent resident certificate, thereby considering them illegitimate - not given any right to such a woman's property even if she is a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir,' the plea, filed through advocate Bimal Roy Jad, said. Charu Wali Khanna said she wanted to build a home in J&K in order to rediscover her roots, but couldn't do so due to the discriminatory laws peculiar to the state.