New Delhi, Aug 31: The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing on the constitutional validity of the Article 35A, which empowers the J&K government to define the state's permanent residents and their rights, till January next year.
The apex court said that hearing on Article 35A would take place after December panchayat polls in the state.
"Supreme Court has deferred hearing on Article 35A, next hearing on 19 January, 2019," Supreme Court Advocate Varun Kumar told the media.
The Centre had contended that hearing should be postponed till Panchayat elections are over in Jammu and Kashmir as there could be law and order problem.
"All the security agencies are engaged in the preparation of the local body elections in the state..Let local body elections finish in a peaceful manner," Attorney General KK Venugopal said before the top court.
PDP's counsel Muzaffar Baig welcomed the apex court's decision, calling it 'wise and deliberate' decision.
"It was a wise and deliberate decision taken by Supreme Court. There is no harm is adjourning the case but there was harm in continuing hearing the case as that would disrupt the local body (Panchayat) polls," Baig told ANI.
A day before the hearing, on Thursday, Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu region, meanwhile, observed a complete shutdown to protest against any "tampering" with the special constitutional rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
What happened during the previous hearing on August 6:
The Supreme Court had on August 6 adjourned hearing on a petition that challenged Article 35A in Jammu and Kashmir. The Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra had then said that it would examine whether Article 35A violates the basic structure of the Constitution. The court while adjourning hearing on the matter said that it would consider the challenge to the article as to whether it should be referred to a five judge Bench or not.
A bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar had on August 6 adjourned the hearing, saying a three-judge bench needs to decide whether it should be referred to a Constitution Bench.
Why is Article 35 A being challenged?
Article 35-A, which was incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, accords special rights and privileges to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any immovable property in the state. It also denies property rights to a woman who marries a person from outside the state. The provision, which leads to such women from the state forfeiting their right over property, also applies to their heirs.
Those challenging it say that the provision was unconstitutionally added to the Constitution. The Constitution does not allow the President to add or change existing provisions. According to the petitioners, the provision was unconstitutionally added to the Constitution. The Constitution does not allow the President to add or change existing provisions. This can only be done by the legislature after such change stands approved within the Parliament by the elected leaders of the country. In the case of Artcile 35A, the provision was added without getting a nod from the Parliament.