Srinagar: Article 370 is beyond “amendment, repeal or abrogation”, observed Jammu and Kashmir High Court in a verdict to a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A in the Supreme Court.
A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice Hasnain Masoodi and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal also ruled that Article 370 though titled as a “temporary provision” is a permanent feature of the Constitution. The observation came in connection with petitions filed by general category government officials to challenge government orders promoting officials junior to them under the Reservation Act and Rules.
The petitions were filed by several gazetted officials of various departments like J&K Engineering, Service Hydraulic Wing, J&K Law Officers Service, J&K Engineering Service, J&K Animal Husbandry Service.
The court also ruled that the reservation provisions made in terms of Section 6 of the Reservation Act and Reservation Rules 9, 10 and 34 were offensive and unconstitutional. The petitioner had pleaded that the rule is not applicable in the state because of the fact that the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1995, had not been extended to the state by a Presidential order under Clause (1) of Article 370.
While replying, the court said that the state’s constituent assembly did not make any recommendation on amendment or repeal of Article 370 before its dissolution on January 25, 1957 and that is why the article although titled as ‘temporary provision’ cannot be abrogated, repealed or even amended as mechanism provided under Clause (3) of Article 370 is no more available and the state’s special status stood guaranteed under Article 370, the only provision of the Constitution that applied to the State on its own.
The leaders of all the major political parties gave their opinions on this landmark judgment.
Nizam-u-Din Bhat, PDP General Secretary – The Jammu and Kashmir High Court order has reflected the strength of the Constitution and reaffirmed the sanctity of Article 370
Nasir Wani, Provincial President, NC- The HC decision should settle the issue once for all. The issue was being raised by the PDP-BJP government to address a constituency other than J&K.
Khalid Jehangir, J-K BJP Spokesman- As a political party, our ideology is abrogation of Article 370. We are in a coalition government and will adhere to the agenda of alliance.
Saifuddin Soz, Congress Leader- The HC has given cogent reasons on how the Article, despite being described as temporary in the Constitution, it has assumed permanence.