New Delhi, Aug 31: The Supreme Court has deferred till January 2019 the hearing of a clutch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A that empowers the Jammu and Kashmir Government to define the state’s permanent residents and their rights. The Centre and State had urged the court to hear the matter only after the local body elections, scheduled for December, are completed.
On Thursday, the Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu observed a complete shutdown to protest against any 'tampering' with the special constitutional rights of the people of the state. The Joint Resistance Leadership, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, had given a call for the shutdown.
Earlier, in the first week of August, the apex court had deferred the hearing to the last week of August after both the Centre and Centre-ruled state administration sought an adjournment of proceedings, citing ongoing preparations for the local body elections.
A bench of the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar adjourned the hearing, saying a three-judge bench needs to decide whether it should be referred to a Constitution Bench. 'Let the matter be listed before a three-judge bench in the week commencing August 27 to determine whether it should be heard by a Constitution Bench or not,' the judges said.
The provisions of Article 35-A bars Indian citizens, other than those who are permanent residents of the state 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 cannot be challenged before any court.
Following the adjournment of the hearing, the former chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti said, 'Even though the deferment of hearing on Article 35 A is not a solution, it has brought interim relief to the people of the state. But with uncertainty looming over its status, it has unleashed a wave of anxiety and panic among the people of the state.'