NEW DELHI: Citing unrest and long delayed local body elections in J&K, the Centre and the state pleaded before the Supreme Court on Friday that hearing on a batch of pleas challenging Article 35A of the Constitution should be deferred. A three judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra adjourned the pleas till the second week of January 2019. Article 35A has wide support among residents of the state but is opposed by others who say it violates rights of the rest of the citizens of India.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the J&K government told the bench that it plans to hold panchayat elections between September and December in eight phases and a debate on the Article 35A could trigger law and order problems. There have been several protests in the state against the Supreme Court’s move to hear the challenges to the law.Mehta said that unless rural polls were held as per schedule between September and December, the Finance Commission will stop grants of `4,335 crore for the state.
“Let the elections go on calmly and thereafter hear these petitions in January or March. This issue has been very sensitive,” Attorney General KK Venugopal said.The petitioner, however, asserted their stand, saying the law has excluded many from getting into professional colleges despite living in the state for 60 years. The lawyer for Charu Wali Khanna, one of the petitioners, said that the law prevented her from buying property because she married a non-Kashmiri. This lead CJI to question petitioners and said, “Article 35A came in 1954 and you challenge it after 60 years?”