September 2018 News
Defer 35A Hearing, Remove Tushar Mehta: Consensus At All-party Meeting13 September 2018
Srinagar: Barring the PDP, which declined the invitation, and the BJP, which was not invited, all political parties that participated in the meeting convened at Dr Farooq Abdullah's residence on Wednesday unanimously called for deferment of the Supreme Court hearing on Article 35A, till an elected government was in place in Jammu & Kashmir. The National Conference (NC) had called for an all-party meeting at Dr Farooq Abdullah's residence. Leaders of Congress, CPI (M), and DNP chief Ghulam Hassan Mir were present, apart from NC leaders including former chief minister Omar Abdullah. PDP did not attend the meeting despite an invite whereas the BJP was not invited. The PDP argued that the agenda of the meeting was not made clear to it. Omar Abdullah said after the meeting that besides calling for deferment of the hearing on Article 35A, all political leaders demanded that Additional Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta be removed as the J&K Government's counsel in the case being heard in the Supreme Court. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta had told the Supreme Court that Article 35 was 'gender discriminatory'. 'It was unanimously agreed in the all-party meeting that hearing on Article 35A has to be deferred till elections are held and a new government is in place in the state,' Omar told reporters here. Omar said that Mehta was sent to defend the J&K state and Article 35A in the Supreme Court but he had betrayed his brief. 'All the leaders in unison decided they don't trust him. We all want that he should be taken off from the case when this comes up in January for hearing. The advocates who defended the case earlier should appear to defend the state,' Omar said. Earlier, the NC while announcing boycott of the upcoming municipal and panchayat elections had asked the Government of India to clear its stand on Article 35A. Omar pointed out that the Narendra Modi-led government had not yet cleared its stand on the 'state subject law'. 'Governor's rule is directly under the central government's control. We don't know the position of the central government over Article 35A and this has raised apprehensions among people about defence of the case in Supreme Court. So, the case should not proceed until J&K has an elected government,' Omar told reporters. According to him, all political parties share the same stand on defending the state subject law and pointed out that a BJP legislator had also given a statement in support of 35A. The Supreme Court has deferred the hearing of the case to the second week of January, after the J&K government cited the upcoming elections as reason for deferring the hearing. Omar told reporters that the NC is staying away from the polls but it has not asked people to boycott them. 'If the government thinks that without the participation of the two major parties (in Kashmir), an election is still worth, they can go ahead. The NC has footprints in all regions of the state and the PDP has its own importance,' he said. 'But people can participate in elections. Neither of us has asked for a poll boycott,' he added. Replying to a question about NC's participation in the elections held in Kargil, Omar said, 'Those polls were not linked to Article 35A.'