Supreme Court to hear pleas challenging Article 35A on August 16

The three-judge Bench posted the case for August 6 to hear arguments.

Senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir government, along with its standing counsel Shoeb Alam, referred to two judgments by the constitution bench of the Supreme Court and said the issues raised in the pleas challenging Article 35A were covered by these verdicts. It is a very sensitive issue, the AG said and made it clear that the Centre did not want to file its reply on validity.

The Centre's interlocutor has had a series of talks with the stakeholders and should be given more time.

The provision bars Indian citizens, other than those who are permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir, from seeking employment, settling in the state, acquiring immovable properties or undertaking any trade or business if the state makes any law to that effect and it can not be challenged before any court.

The J&K legislature can alter the definition of permanent residents only through a law passed by two-thirds majority.

Article 35A of the Constitution, which avers special rights to the state as far as permanent residency and landholding in the state is concerned, seems to have come in the way of educational benefits that accrues through special entrance exam for higher education, such as NEET.

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Article 35A also empowers the state's legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on the ground of violating the right to equality of people from other states or any other right under the Indian constitution.

Parliament was not consulted when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Indian Constitution through a Presidential Order issued under Article 370.

Article 368 (i) of the Constitution mandates that only Parliament can amend the Constitution by introducing a new Article.

The top court was hearing a batch of pleas challenging Article 35A in addition to the main writ petition filed by a group called "We The Citizens".

Appearing for one of the petitioners, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar said the state permitted a person, who had migrated to Pakistan before 1947, to return and settle down in the Valley, but "five lakh Kashmiris, who had to leave the state, (and were residing in places like) Delhi...can't go" back.

A second petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir native, Charu Wali Khanna, has challenged Article 35A for protecting certain provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution which restricts the basic right to property if a native woman marries a man not holding the Permanent Resident Certificate.

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