Article 35-A row: Abdullah expresses concern over state govt’s ‘subtle support’ in SC

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah criticised the Additional Solicitor General of India (ASG), Tushar Mehta on Sunday for saying that “there is an aspect of gender discrimination” in Article 35A of the Constitution in the Supreme Court of India.

“Such a statement, if made before the SC on behalf of Jammu & Kashmir government indicates that instead of defending Article 35-A and asking for the challenge to be dismissed based upon earlier constitution bench judgment, the state government has virtually conceded before the SC that some parts of Article 35-A deserve to be struck down,” Abdullah said in a statement.

Abdullah also stated his concern that the advocate general of Jammu and Kashmir “has been virtually sidelined and made to take a back seat in such a sensitive litigation concerning the unique legal history and constitutional status of the state of Jammu & Kashmir.”

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He said the advocate general “is appointed for state and is obligated to represent and defend the interests of the people of the state. He is the constitutional authority and a guardian of the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir before all courts.”

Abdullah also urged the Jammu and Kashmir Government to take immediate steps to ensure that the state J&K does not “facilitate the striking down of article 35A by its subtle support and admissions made before the SC.”

Earlier, Tushar, during the hearing in the apex court, agreed to the contention that Article 35A and certain aspects needed to be debated upon and said, “It can’t be denied that there is an aspect of gender discrimination in it (Article 35A)”.

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The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on petitions challenging the validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution to January next year.

This came after Jammu and Kashmir government approached the SC seeking adjournment of the hearing.

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.

According to Intelligence reports, agencies had warned about the revolt in the police ranks in a written communication to the state government.

People across the political and regional divide have come together to protest against attempts to revoke Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents.

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