Justifying the abrogation of Article 35A, which accorded special rights and privileges to natives of erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has told the Supreme Court that the provision was discriminatory especially against women marrying outsiders and a serious obstacle to the socio-economic development. It has been felt, over the years, that this regime has worked to the detriment of the state and has significantly contributed to the grave problems of "terrorism, militancy and separatism which plague it", an affidavit filed in the apex court by Gyanesh Kumar, Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, said. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Justice N V Ramana is all set to commence hearing from November 14 on a batch of petitions challenging constitutional validity of the Centre's decision to abrogate the provisions of Article 370.
Article 35A became history on August 5 as a consequence of the Centre's decision to abrogate the provisions of Article 370 which had given special status to the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir. Incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, it accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state. It also 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. The affidavit said the provision itself "proved to be a serious obstacle to the socio-economic development of the erstwhile state.
"It has prevented investments in the state and adversely impacted job creation for the youth which again resulted in a cascading effect on other developmental indicators. It has led to a discriminatory regime against citizens of the erstwhile state from the rest of the country as well as a large number of residents." Highlighting the fact that once a woman marries an outsider, she loses the property rights, the MHA officer said, "I state and submit that women of the erstwhile state were also discriminated against if they chose to marry a Non-Permanent Resident." In an oblique reference to Pakistan, the affidavit said, "the inimical forces from across the border have exploited the situation. The growth potential of the erstwhile state was largely untapped despite large monetary support from the Government of India."
It said that the tourism potential has remained severely under-exploited due to Article 35A and these factors have contributed to "fostering a separatist mindset, which breeds militancy and terrorism, fuelled from across the border." The Centre said that the erstwhile state has suffered huge loss of lives due to terrorism since 1990.
"The unfortunate situation prevailing on the ground affected not only the people of the erstwhile state but also the brave and dedicated members of the Armed Forces and the police forces, coming from different parts of the country, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice in the course of the performance of their duties. I state and submit that since 1990 to till August 4, 2019, a total of 41,861 persons have lost their lives in 70,960 incidents of terrorist violence. This includes 14,035 civilians; 5,291 personnel of security forces and 22,535 terrorists," the affidavit said.