After two adjournments in a month, Supreme Court to hear petitions challenging validity of Article 35A today

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Friday will hear petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A which bars on residents of Jammu and Kashmir from purchasing land in the state. Two such hearings have been adjourned twice this month.

Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and denies property rights to women who marry those from outside the state.

The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.

Political parties including the National Conference and the CPI(M), have moved the Supreme Court in support of Article 35A, that also empowers the state assembly to define “permanent residents” for bestowing special rights and privileges to them.

The dates for the local body elections in the state have not been declared yet, but are they likely to be held in September-end.

Separatists call for shutdown

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Restrictions were imposed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar on Thursday to prevent protests called by separatists in support of Article 35A. “Restrictions have been imposed in areas under the jurisdiction of Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, MR Gunj and Safa Kadal police stations while partial restrictions will remain in force in areas under Kralkhud and Maisuma police stations on Thursday and Friday.

“The restrictions are purely preventive in nature and have been imposed to maintain law and order,” police said in a statement.

Separatist conglomerate, Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), headed by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik, has called for a complete protest shutdown on August 30 and 31 for protection of article 35A.

The article has been challenged through a bunch of petitions in the Supreme Court. The case is coming up for hearing on Friday before a three-judge bench of the apex court. Meanwhile, rail services between Baramulla and Bannihal towns have been suspended for two days.

The University of Kashmir has also rescheduled all entrance exams being held on Thursday and Friday for admission to various post-graduate courses.

Police and paramilitary forces have been deployed in huge numbers in areas placed under restrictions and also at other vulnerable places in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley.

Jammu and Kashmir government had sought adjournment

The Jammu and Kashmir government had approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking adjournment of today’s hearing in view of upcoming local body elections in the state. In a letter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court and circulated, M Shoeb Alam, the standing counsel for the state in the apex court, sought adjournment of hearing on five petitions scheduled for Friday, by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

The state “will be seeking adjournment in the matters on 31 August on account of the ongoing preparation for the upcoming panchayat and urban local body and municipal elections in the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the letter said. “The letter may kindly be circulated to the hon’ble judges so as to avoid inconvenience to them…” it said.

The apex court is hearing a bunch of petitions in the matter, including the one filed by NGO ‘We the Citizens’ seeking quashing of article 35A, which confers special status to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

FP

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