New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the “surreptitiously included” Article 35A of the Constitution had given the Jammu and Kashmir government the right not just to discriminate between residents of the state and other Indian citizens but also between two state citizens on the basis of declaring some as permanent residents while leaving out others.
Calling it “Constitutionally vulnerable”, Jaitley said the provision surreptitiously included by a Presidential notification was neither a part of the original Constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly, nor did it come as a Constitutional amendment, which requires an approval by two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament.
In a Facebook post, Jaitley asked why the rule of law that applied to the rest of the country should not apply to the state.
“Should violence, separatism, mass stone throwing, vicious ideological indoctrination be allowed on the plea that if we check it, it will have a negative effect. It is this misconceived policy that has proved to be counter-productive,” he wrote, adding the present government had decided that the rule of law must equally apply to the state.
Calling the Article 35A discriminatory, he said: “Lakhs of Indian citizens in J&K vote in Lok Sabha elections but not in Assembly, municipal or panchayat polls. Their children cannot get government jobs. They cannot own property and their children cannot get admitted to governmental institutions. The same applies to those who live elsewhere in the country. The heirs of ladies marrying outside the state are disinherited from owning or inheriting property.”
The BJP leader said the Article 35A had also hurt the people of the state by preventing investment and dismantling the state’s economy. He said Jammu and Kashmir did not have adequate financial resources and its ability to raise more had been crippled by the said provision.
“No investor is willing to set up industry, hotel, private educational institutions or private hospitals since he can neither buy land or property nor can his executives do so. Their ward cannot get government jobs or admission in colleges.
“Today, there are no major national or international chains which have set up hotel in a tourism-centric state. This prevents enrichment, resource generation and job creation,” he added.
Jaitley said that engineering colleges and hospitals were lying under-utilised or unutilised since professors and doctors from outside were unwilling to go there.
“Article 35A, which is Constitutionally vulnerable, is used as a political shield by many but it hurts the common citizen of the state the most. It denied them a booming economy, economic activity and jobs,” he said.
The Minister added that the Central government had always desired to allow more space to the mainstream parties in the Valley so that the separatist space is shrunk but was let down by the two mainstream parties of the state.
“The two major mainstream parties, even when they condemned terrorism, it was always with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. It is only their absolute distancing from separatism, violence and terrorism that can create an alternative space. Being soft in criticising separatism does no good. It is for this reason that their own space has shrunk. This is the country’s disappointment with them,” he said in an apparent reference to National Conference and People’s Democratic Party.