NEW DELHI: The Central government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that the bifurcating of Jammu & Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh is a temporary measure and that J&K’s status as a Union Territory will eventually be reversed to that of a state in the future.
The Supreme Court inquired about how temporary is this and when elections would be held for J&K. To which, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded that measures are being taken to reach the goal.
The Supreme Court also expressed its willingness to give allowance to Parliament’s decision of converting J&K into two UTs in the national interest. However, the court has asked the Union government to specify the anticipated timeline it has in mind for the restoration of statehood to J&K.
Earlier on Monday, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud observed that by enacting Article 35A, fundamental rights of equality, liberty to practice profession in any part of the country and others were virtually taken away.
He made the remarks after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, referred to the contentious provision in the Indian Constitution, saying it gave special rights to only permanent residents of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and was discriminatory.
Without naming the two mainstream political parties of the erstwhile state, the Centre told a five-judge bench headed by CJI Chandrachud that citizens have been misguided that the special provisions for Jammu and Kashmir were “not discrimination but a privilege”.
“Instead of informing the residents how they were being deprived of their precious rights because of Article 370 and Article 35A (applicable to only J&K), these two parties kept misleading the people to believe that the scrapped provisions protected their pride and special position. The hindrance to their rights were projected as their pride and they were made tofight for a provision which deprived them of their rights and worked against their interests,” Mehta told a bench of CJI D Y Chandrachud and Justices S K Kaul, S Khanna, B R Gavai and Surya Kant.
After he presented a catalogue of the rights the people of J&K were deprived of, the bench said, “Article 35A created an exception in three areas — employment under the state government, acquisition of immoveable property and settlement in the state. So though Part III of the Indian Constitution was made applicable to J&K, introduction of Article 35A took away three fundamental rights under Article 16(1), 19(1)(f) (which then was fundamental right to property), and 19(1) (a)(settlement).”
(with inputs from agencies)

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