All about Article 370

On October 17, 1949, Article 370 was added to the Indian constitution, as a ‘temporary provision’, which exempted Jammu & Kashmir, permitting it to draft its own Constitution and restricting the Indian Parliament’s legislative powers in the state. It was introduced into the draft constitution by N Gopalaswami Ayyangar as Article 306 A.

Under Article 370: The Constituent Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir was empowered to recommend which articles of the Indian Constitution should apply to the state,The J&K Constituent Assembly was dissolved after it drafted the state’s constitution. The article allowed the state a certain amount of autonomy – its own constitution, a separate flag and freedom to make laws. Foreign affairs, defence and communications remained the preserve of the central government.As a result, Jammu and Kashmir could make its own rules relating to permanent residency, ownership of property and fundamental rights. It could also bar Indians from outside the state from purchasing property or settling there.

On 5th August 2019, President of India in the exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution had issued the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019. Through this, Government of India has made modifications in Article 370 itself (not revoked it).With this, the Government of India has dramatically altered the relationship between the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the Indian Union. Order, 2019 has replaced Presidential Order of 1954.Subsequently, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019, passed by Parliament divides the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two new Union Territories (UTs): Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh.This is the first time that a state has been converted into a UT.Of the six Lok Sabha seats currently with the state of Jammu and Kashmir, five will remain with the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, while one will be allotted to Ladakh.The UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have an Assembly, like in Delhi and Puducherry.Instead of 29, India will now have 28 states. Kashmir will no longer have a Governor, rather a Lieutenant .The special status provided to J&K under Article 370 will be abolished. Jammu & Kashmir will no longer have the separate constitution, flag or anthem. The citizens of Jammu and Kashmir will not have dual citizenship. As the new union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be subject to the Indian Constitution, its citizens will now have the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Indian constitution. Article 360, which can be used to declare a Financial Emergency, will now also be applicable. All laws passed by Parliament will be applicable in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Right to Information Act and the Right to Education Act. The Indian Penal Code will replace the Ranbir Penal Code of Jammu and Kashmir. Article 35A, which originates from the provisions of Article 370 stands null and void. Since Presidential Order has extended all provisions of the Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir, including the chapter on Fundamental Rights, the discriminatory provisions under Article 35A will now be unconstitutional.

The Need for Changes in abolishing A370 was dire. Article 370 was added in the Indian constitution to provide autonomy to J&K.However, it failed to address the well-being of Kashmiris who have now endured two generations of insurgency and violence. It contributed to the gap between Kashmir and the rest of the nation. In the newly-formed Union Territory of J&K, the central government is trying to formulate new rules that will give domicile rights to residents over land and in government jobs. This has been a response to the perception that the unemployment rate in J&K is higher than the national average.Domicile rights have also been a long-standing demand of the Dogras of Jammu and the Buddhists of Ladakh. While most of those interviewed by this author chose to remain silent on the issue of domicile rights, a few expressed their fears that such a move will further limit the employment opportunities for the local youth and also lead to a demographic disruption in the Valley.

Possible Consequences include rise in militancy as  Article 370 was seen by Kashmiris as a marker of their separate identity and autonomy. Widespread protests and violence as a reaction to the dilution of Article 370 are bound to take place .Terror elements in Pakistan would find Kashmir to be the most fertile ground for breeding terrorism. The unrest can affect the democratic progress that has been made so far. Opposition political parties could launch a legal challenge but Kashmir is an emotive issue with many Indians, and most parties would be wary of opposing the move lest they be branded anti-India. All in all, Kashmir and the people there are reaching towards normalcy after 2 years of removing article 370, but for how long will peace prevail? India is hoping for a long one.

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