Supreme Court defers hearing on Article 35A to January 2019

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The Supreme Court of India on Friday adjourned the hearing on a string of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the Article 35A, which protects the state subject laws and special rights and privileges of J&K’s permanent residents.

The court said the next hearing on the case would take place in second week of January next year, media reports said.

Appearing in behalf of the state administration,  Additional Solicitor-General of India Tushar Mehta told the top court that any decision on Article 35A could lead to deterioration of law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir where panchayat elections are scheduled to be held soon.

The state government had earlier filed an application before the Registrar of the Supreme Court, informing that it is going to seek adjournment of the hearing of the petition in view of the “ongoing preparations for the upcoming Panchayat and urban local body and municipal elections in the state”.

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Supreme Court lawyer Charu Wali Khanna, who has filed another petition challenging the said Article, claims it is also discriminatory against women.

Article 35A, 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 a woman who marries a person from outside the state.

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

In its defence of the Article, the J&K government had cited two verdicts by the Constitution benches of the Supreme Court in 1961 and 1969, which had upheld the powers of the President under Article 370(1)(d) of the Constitution of India to pass such orders.

In 2014, ‘We The Citizens’ filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking abrogation of the Article 35A on the ground that it was not added to the Constitution following the procedure prescribed in the Article 368 of the Indian Constitution.