India is the largest democracy with one of the lengthiest written constitutions. It claims to be a secular state and one where there is no restriction for an individual to speak his/her heart out. The Indian constitution consists of 448 articles in 25 parts and 12 schedules. Each article contributes to the country’s solid framework providing equal rights and highlighting the fundamental duties of Indian citizens. Time and again there have been many tweaks and changes according to the ‘then’ conditions prevailing in the country. Till the year 2016, total 101 amendments were already made in the Indian constitution. Recently the news channels have been abuzz with the news of two very important articles being scrapped from the Indain constitution.
On Monday, August 5th 2019, Home minister Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha announced to revoke Article 370. He also announced Jammu and Kashmir to be no longer a state and proposed to divide it into 2 Union Territories (Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh). This is a very strong move taken by the current ruling government and is getting praises from the people across the country. It was much awaited from their side because it was there in their manifesto in 2014 elections as well as in 2019 elections.
What is Article 370? Why was it Imposed?
Before understanding all this, we must know the History of Kashmir and how it became a part of India:
After independence, British gave all rights of the state (which was never on a direct control of them) to Maharaja Hari Singh (of Jammu and Kashmir). While 562 princely states decided to merge and become an integral part of India Maharaja Hari Singh refused. He decided to stay independent. He wanted to make it the Switzerland of the East. On the other hand, Pakistan also wanted Jammu and Kashmir to merge with it.
Maharaja also signed a standstill agreement with Pakistan which was basically an agreement in which they asked for some time to think if they want to merge with Pakistan or not. That agreement also stated that whoever country attacked them first to take over the land, Maharaja will go with the other country and merge the state with them.
On 20th October 1947 forces of Azad Kashmir which was supported by Pakistan army attacked the state to take over the entire state. It was then Maharaja Hari Singh went to India and decided to merge with them.
“Instrument of accession” of Jammu and Kashmir to India was signed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (PM of India) and Maharaja Hari Singh on 26th October 1947
Under this, the state gives only three subjects to the dominion of India i.e. Defence, external affairs and communications.
Article 370 was proposed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah (PM of Jammu and Kashmir) which gives special rights to the state.
We will now understand Article 370 and article 35A in detail.
Important Points about Article 370
- Article 1 of Indian constitution states that Jammu and Kashmir are an integral part of India, also Article 370 in part 21 of the Indian constitution grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
- Article 370 gives an autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Article 370 was drafted by Gopala Swami Ayyangar, a Union Minister and former Diwan to J&K’s Maharaja Hari Singh after BR Ambedkar refused to draft it because he was against this.
- Article drafted in part 21 of the constitution is temporary, transient and has special provisions.
Provisions In Article 370
- It exempted the state from the complete applicability of constitution of India. The state has its own constitution. It was adopted on 17th November 1956 and came into force on 26th January 1957.
- It gives the people of Jammu and Kashmir dual citizenship (Jammu and Kashmir and India).
- Here the term of legislative assembly is 6 years instead of 5 like in other states of India.
- Jammu and Kashmir has its own flag.
- All the provisions that are applied on other Indian states are not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.
- Central government cannot declare financial emergency in Jammu and Kashmir as per article 360. Centre can only declare emergency in the case of war or external aggression.
- Article 370 can be amended only on the recommendation of the state constitution assembly.
- While framing the article these provisions are said to be temporary and can be abolished. It can only be done by the President declaration along with the recommendation of constituent assembly of the state.
- The provision of Article 238 (deals with the administration of part B states) is not applicable to the state of J&K. The state was there in the category in the original constitution (1950) but was omitted by the 7th constitutional amendment act (1956).
- The power of parliament is limited here. The laws here can be made only with the consent of state of J&K.
- Orders of parliament are not applicable here.
Features of Constituent Assembly of J&K:
- As also stated above the constitution was adopted on 17th November 1957 and came into force on 26th January 1957.
- It declares J&K to be an integral part of India.
- It states that J&K comprises of all the territories that were under the ruler on 15th august 1947 i.e. J&K, POK and Aksai chin.
- It states that a resident is a permanent resident of the state if on 14th may 1954, a person is subject of class I and class II.
- Have lawfully acquired immovable property in the state
- He is a resident for 10 years prior to the date.
- Any person who was a resident of Jammu and Kashmir and migrate to Pakistan after 1st march 1947 came back for resettlement.
5. It is also entitled to all the rights guaranteed under the constitution of India.
6. The assembly consists of 111 members, 24 of which are vacant for the area comes under POK. Hence, only 87 is the total strength of constitution.
7. The governor of the state is appointed by the president for a term of 5 years.
8. Until 1965, the president here was known as (Sadar-i- Riyasat) whereas the prime minister was known as (Wazir-I-Azam), they were redesignated as Governor and Chief Minister of the state.
9. It declared Urdu as their official language and permitted English for official purposes.
10. Procedure of amendment of article 370 can be done by a bill passed in each house of the state, by a majority of two thirds of the total members of the house.