J&K seeks adjournment of pleas in SC against Articles 370, 35A

As many as five petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against Article 35A, with the lead case filed in 2014 by a little known Delhi-based NGO, ‘We The Citizens’.

The Jammu and Kashmir government will be requesting the Supreme Court to defer a bunch of pleas that call for repeal of legislations providing special status to the state in the Constitution of India and Constitution of J&K.

The J&K government, through its standing counsel in the apex court, M ShoebAlam, has moved an application before the registrar general of the apex court, seeking adjournment of the pleas against Article 35A, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and Section 6 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.   

As many as five petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court against Article 35A, with the lead case filed in 2014 by a little known Delhi-based NGO, ‘We The Citizens’. 

Besides these cases, a Special Leave Petition is also pending disposal before the apex court that was filed after Delhi High Court dismissed a plea against Article 370. 

The state government has cited lack of an elected government in the state as the reason for seeking the adjournment. 

The pleas have been listed from 12 to 14 February.

“On the day of listing, the undersigned shall be requesting for an adjournment in the mater since presently there is no elected government in the state of J&K and the state is under President’s rule,” reads the state government’s application.     

In the application, the government has said the matter involves a sensitive issue regarding a challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution of India.  “A short reply has been filed by the State of Jammu and Kashmir in the lead matter (We The Citizens) and notices have not been issued in the other petitions. It will therefore be requested that the matter may kindly be heard when an elected government is in place,” reads the state government’s plea. “The letter may kindly be circulated to the Hon’ble judges so as to avoid inconvenience to them,” it says. 

On July 17, 2018, the Supreme Court had referred the case related to scrapping of Article 35A to a higher bench. The apex court on August 31, 2018, deferred the matter to January 2019 after the Centre and Centre-ruled Jammu & Kashmir cited law and order issues and sought deferment of proceedings till the local body polls in the state get over in December. In 2014, ‘We The Citizens’ filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking abrogation of the Article 35A on the ground that it was not added to the Constitution following the procedure prescribed in the Article 368 of the Indian Constitution. 

In response, while the J&K Government filed a counter-affidavit and sought dismissal of the petition, the Government of India did not file objections to the petition. In its defence of the Article, the J&K government has cited two verdicts by the Constitution benches of the Supreme Court in 1961 and 1969, which had upheld the powers of the President under Article 370(1)(d) of the Constitution of India to pass such orders. 

The Article was incorporated in the Constitution in 1954 by an order of then president Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the then cabinet.