Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is crying foul after the government ‘played’ around with Article 370 to bring about 10 per cent reservation for the upper caste economically weaker sections (EWS). Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Schedule Tribes (STs) will benefit in terms of access to educational institutions and government jobs in J&K. The government announced that an ordinance will be promulgated to bring people residing in the areas adjoining the international border within the ambit of reservation on a par with those living in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Control. By doing so, the Centre wants to reach out to the ‘Jammu region’.
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However, the Kashmir High Court Bar Association has called the government’s move a ‘clear fraud’ on the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution of India and termed it ‘unconstitutional’. In a statement, the Association says that it “found that the ordinance and the order issued is not what it purports to be, but in essence and substance merely a cloak to extend to the State of J&K the constitutional amendments carried out in the Constitution of India by the Constitution (seventy-seventh Amendment) Act, 1995 as well as the 103rd Amendment effected to the Constitution of India, creating provision for Reservations for Economically Backward class of the Society.”
The statement further says that the Constitution of India does not by its own force apply to the State of J&K and its provisions can be extended only in accord with the mechanism constitutionally provided and prescribe under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
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The Association drew attention to the writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35A and 370 of the Constitution of India. It concludes that “the ordinance issued by the Central Government is ‘clearly a fraud’ on the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution of India and therefore unconstitutional, liable to be rolled back.”
With Lok Sabha elections just around the corner, the Union Cabinet is trying to clear a host of proposals. One such attempt was to play with the emotions of people of Arunachal Pradesh with granting the Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) to six Non-Arunachal tribes but the state government rolled it back following three days of riots and protests. Now, the government is trying to push forward J&K’s Article 35A.