The matter of Article 370 and women’s rights associated with it, as it has been raised so far, reflects patriarchy. A woman marrying off a non-state subject resident is denied of her rights while a man doing so, has the legitimacy of enjoying all his rights. Woman leaving the state can not pass on her rights to her husband or her children while a man doing so is not questioned. The definition of this state identity automatically places women of J&K at a degraded position making their rights a matter of validation while a man has the opportunity of enjoying rightfully.
Article 370 has mustered enough media heat after Modi’s Lalkar rally in Kashmiri in 2013, which saw massive participation of a significant number of Muslims as well as Hindus. His assertion that Article 370, which grants special status to the state doesn’t protect women rights in the state, invited criticism and invoked the public to reflect on it.
Article 370 in the Constitution, grants autonomous status to the state and enumerates that except in matters of defense, foreign affairs, finance and communication, the Centre needs the state government’s approval in applying all other laws that are otherwise applicable in the rest of the country.
J&K state-subject law under the article, prohibits outsiders to settle and buy property in the state. However, it is silent on the citizenship status of women who marry outsiders. The J&K high court, in 1965 had ruled that women after marriage adopt the domicile and nationality of their husband. In 2002, however , the High Court overruled its previous order, claiming that determining nationality by marriage is not relevant and gave a verdict that “Daughter of a permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose status as a permanent resident of the State on her marriage with a person,who is not a permanent resident of the state.”
The then state-government of PDP-Congress, appealed against this order in the Supreme Court, claiming that it is obstrusive to the state’s special status under Article 370. However, the petition was withdrawn fearing that the SC might endorse the HC order and hence the matter should be taken up to the State legislator. The Legislator then tried to reverse the HC judgement and a bill titled J&K Women’s Permanent Resident Bill was issues stating – “a female permanent resident on her marriage with a person who is not a permanent resident shall with effect from date of such marriage cease to be a permanent resident.”
The Bill attracted controversy and was opposed at National level by both Congress and BJP and eventually didn’t go through the Upper House. In 2010, as well the matter was brought in the limelight again, stating that the right of women to marry outside the state while retaining their citizenship goes against the autonomy and special status of the state.