Article 370 – The Blot On The Indian Constitution

The abrogation of Article 370 by the Govt. of India has been a burning topic off late. In this article, we’ll look into what was Article 370, what were its implications, why it was abrogated and how it was abrogated. Also, we’ll look into what differences would it cause in the geopolitical situation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Article 370 was enacted in the constitution as an erstwhile temporary provision to grant special status and autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir at the time of its accession to the Indian Union in 1947, for the time being. This was a “temporary provision” in that its applicability was intended to last till the formulation and adoption of the State’s constitution, but that never happened as the state constituent assembly was dissolved on 26 January 1957, based on Mir Qasim resolution it adopted and ratified on November 17 1956, without recommending either abrogation or amendment of Article 370. Thus the Article has become a permanent feature of the Indian constitution, as confirmed by various rulings of the Supreme Court of India and the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, the latest of which was in April 2018. 

The abrogation of Article 370 could have been done by the president at the recommendation of the state constituent assembly, but in this case, the constituent assembly had already been dissolved. That brings up the point about how did the current NDA government actually manage to abrogate Article 370. So, the article 370 consisted of 3 sections, the section 1 stated that article 238 (which dealt with the provisions regarding administration of states) would no longer be applicable for the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the section 2 states that for implementing any decision ( except in the cases of external affairs, military, finance,etc.) the decision has to pass in the state legislative assembly first. This severely limited the centre’s ability to implement its schemes in the states and as a result of this, the state was always late in implementing reforms. Section 3 of the article stated that the president through public notification declare that the article ceases to be operative on the recommendation of the state constituent assembly. 

The biggest obstacle in the path of removal of the article 370 as promised by the BJP in its manifesto was the section 3, as the heir of the constituent assembly was meant to be the state assembly and the state’s political stakeholders were very active in voicing their support for article 370 and the special status of the state. It was going to be impossible for the NDA to gain the recommendation of the state assembly to abrogate article 370, therefore to bypass this ,the presidential order was issued at the time when the state was under president rule and the state assembly ceased to exist, and therefore the president was the successor of the assembly and therefore had the power to abrogate article 370 through a presidential order and that was done. 

Hence, It was a clever decision by the BJP to withdraw support from the BJP-PDP alliance in the state as it was the part of the large plan to remove the special status of the state and the mastermind behind this plan was then BJP President Amit Shah. In the days leading to this decision, the Kashmiri leaders were put on house arrests and restrictions were imposed in the valley and around 28000 troops were rushed to the valley, to control the situation after the announcement of the decision. After the decision was announced on 5th of August, it was welcomed by the leaders of Jammu and Ladakh regions, whereas the Kashmiri leaders were against it and commented that the only link between Indian Union and Kashmir had been broken. The valley has been on lockdown ever since and section 144 has been imposed to control any possibility of riots.

Curfew has been imposed in the Kashmir Valley over the past month

Now, what changes does the abrogation of Article 370 actually bring along with it? For starters, all the central government schemes can directly be implemented in the now UT(s). Also, the scrapping of Article 35A (which defined the permanent residents of the state, and only granted them the right to own immovable property in the state) along with article 370 paves the way for economic development of the region as investors from other states would now be able to set up businesses in the region. Also since now, anyone would be able to buy land in the state, it would be very easy for Multi-National Corporations to set up units in the region, also it presents a lucrative opportunity as the region has been a previously untapped market. One of the major benefits of the scrapping of Article 370 would be the improvement in Law enforcement in the region as the Police would now be under the control of the centre. 

One could argue that this decision would aid in the integration of the misguided (and radicalized) Kashmiri youth into the mainstream Indian society but the validity of the claim isn’t clear and is something that only time will tell. Until then all we can do is to wait and watch. 

By Ayushmaan Sharma

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