August 2018 News

Wary Of Fallout, JK Govt Moves SC To Defer Art 35-A Hearing

3 August 2018
Rising Kashmir
Yawar Hussain

Srinagar: The state government Friday filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking deferment of hearing in the pleas challenging Article 35-A. The government through its counsel Shoeb Alam stated that the government needs to prepare for the upcoming Urban Local Body and Panchayat elections and therefore the hearing in the case scheduled for Monday should be deferred. A top official in the law department, wishing anonymity, said the move is part of the strategy of the state government to keep on seeking deferment till a feasible situation arises. He said the central government has also created an air of ambiguity about its stand which has also led the state government to seek a deferment. He said the state is planning to put forth a demand before the court seeking dismissal of the pleas along with referring the matter to the parliament to discuss it. 'If Article 35-A is declared as unconstitutional on the grounds that it was never discussed and passed by parliament then all the presidential orders passed since 1947 need to be revoked as well,' he said. He said the counsel for the state has in detail discussed all the legal cons which will arise if the Article is scrapped. 'If the presidential order, in this case, is treated ultra virus then what about the order which has brought the Indian Administrative Service officials to the state and also the Supreme Court's jurisdiction,' the official said while quoting from the meeting of the law department with the counsel in the case. He said legally the state government knows that the very jurisdiction of Supreme Court has been applied to the state through the same presidential orders. 'Best lawyers for government are those who buy time,' he said. The Apex Court is scheduled to hear four public interest litigations challenging the Article 35-A's constitutional validity. The first PIL was filed in the case in 2014 by a Delhi based Non-Governmental Organisation 'We the Citizens'. Subsequently, the Supreme Court had clubbed the PILs. In June this year, the central government had asked the court not to pass an interim order in the case as it was 'sensitive' and the interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma was currently making efforts to find a solution. Thereafter, the apex court deferred the hearing in the matter to August 6. Article 35-A was added to the Indian constitution in 1954 through a Presidential order. The state has been witnessing protests by various mainstream political parties, separatist parties, trade bodies along with other civil society organisations against any move to tinker with Article 35-A.