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NSA Ajit Doval Makes Big Statement On Sovereignty; Says Separate Constitution For J&K An 'aberration'

Written By Ankit Prasad | Mumbai | Published:

India's National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval made a big statement over Jammu and Kashmir, specifically over the state's constitution, which, upon being adopted in 1956, had made J&K the only state in the country to have its own constitution.

Speaking at the launch of a book about India's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Doval said that the separate constitution for Jammu and Kashmir was an 'aberration', and emphasised that sovereignty can never be 'diluted and ill-defined': 

"It is only a means to an end. The thing was, that to make a sovereign state in which there was the sovereignty of the people was established through a constitution, which is applicable to the whole of it, probably with Jammu and Kashmir where the constitution was ... in a truncated form, and another constitution of J&K continued to exist, which is an aberration, which I think Mr RPN Singh has brought out in his book, very vividly."

The National Security Advisor's statement comes at a time that the Supreme Court is hearing petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A of the Constitution of India, which grants special rights and privileges to the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir, including the power to define 'permanent residents' of the state. The Article also prohibits non-residents of Jammu and Kashmir from buying property in the state and guarantees employment and education-linked reservation for J&K residents.

Article 35A states:

"Saving of laws with respect to permanent residents and their rights. — Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, no existing law in force in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and no law hereafter enacted by the Legislature of the State:

(a) defining the classes of persons who are, or shall be, permanent residents of the State of Jammu and Kashmir; or

(b) conferring on such permanent residents any special rights and privileges or imposing upon other persons any restrictions as respects—

(i) employment under the State Government;
(ii) acquisition of immovable property in the State;
(iii) settlement in the State; or
(iv) right to scholarships and such other forms of aid as the State Government may provide,
shall be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with or takes away or abridges any rights conferred on the other citizens of India by any provision of this part."

Over the past few weeks, as the Supreme Court has been hearing the pleas challenging the validity of Article 35-A, and especially given the political instability that J&K has witnessed over the last few months, there have been a number of political statements over it. Former J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has tweeted about it regularly, including the following: