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4 Years After Removal of Article 370

Context:

The Union Territory of J&K has witnessed many firsts in the past four years after removal of its special status under Article 370 in August, 2019. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the abrogation of Article 370 had paved the way for peace and development in J&K.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Article 370 of the Indian Constitution: Special Provisions for Jammu and Kashmir
  2. Removal of Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir: Article 370 and Subsequent Developments
  3. Transformations in Jammu and Kashmir: Milestones, Security, and Political Dynamics
  4. Challenges Ahead for Jammu and Kashmir: Addressing Key Concerns

Understanding Article 370 of the Indian Constitution: Special Provisions for Jammu and Kashmir

Context and Scope:
  • Article 370 is the initial provision of Part XXI, titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions,’ in the Indian Constitution.
  • It grants special provisions to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), allowing the state to have its own constitution and offering exemptions from certain aspects of the Constitution of India.
Exemptions and Legislative Restrictions:
  • Article 370 exempts J&K from the application of the Indian Constitution, with the exception of Article 1 (which defines the territory of India) and Article 370 itself.
  • It enables the state to draft its own constitution.
  • Parliamentary legislative powers over J&K are restricted, necessitating “consultation” with the state government for extending central laws related to subjects listed in the Instrument of Accession (IoA).
Instrument of Accession and Powers:
  • The Instrument of Accession (IoA) was signed in 1947 by Raja Hari Singh of J&K and Governor General Lord Mountbatten.
  • The IoA granted Parliament authority to legislate on Defence, External Affairs, and Communications for J&K.
  • However, for extending these powers to other subjects, the “concurrence” of the state government is essential.
Application and Transformation:
  • Often described as a “tunnel,” Article 370 facilitated the gradual application of the Indian Constitution to J&K.
  • Through a 1954 order, a significant portion of the Constitution, including numerous Constitutional amendments, was extended to J&K.

Removal of Special Status of Jammu and Kashmir: Article 370 and Subsequent Developments

Article 370(3) and Removal of Special Status:
  • Article 370(3) allows for the removal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status through a Presidential Order.
  • Such an order requires prior concurrence from J&K’s Constituent Assembly, which was dissolved in 1957.
Views on Removal:
  • One perspective holds that since the Constituent Assembly was dissolved, the removal of special status is not possible.
  • Another viewpoint suggests that removal can occur with the concurrence of the State Assembly.
2019 Developments:
  • The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 2019, issued by the President, eliminated J&K’s special status and extended the Indian Constitution’s provisions to the region.
  • The J&K (Reorganization) Act 2019 led to the division of J&K into two Union Territories: J&K with a Legislative Assembly and Ladakh without one.
Legal Challenge and Supreme Court Hearing:
  • The Supreme Court of India is presently hearing petitions challenging the 2019 abrogation of Article 370.
  • These developments are significant in shaping the legal and constitutional landscape surrounding Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Transformations in Jammu and Kashmir: Milestones, Security, and Political Dynamics

Milestones in the Past 4 Years:
  • Panchayati Raj Establishment:
    • All three tiers of Panchayati Raj were established, enhancing local governance structures.
  • Delimitation and ST Reservation:
    • Seats for Scheduled Tribes (STs) were reserved during the delimitation of Assembly constituencies.
  • Domicile Law Changes:
    • Changes in domicile laws facilitated settlement of individuals from other parts of the country in J&K.
Security Situation:
  • Reduced Stone Pelting:
    • Presence of increased security forces and actions by agencies like NIA led to a drastic reduction in stone-pelting incidents.
  • Decreased Terrorism Incidents:
    • Government data indicated a 32% decline in terrorism acts between August 2019 and June 2022 compared to the preceding 10 months.
Political Changes:

District Council Elections:

  • District Development Council (DDC) elections were conducted in all 20 districts in 2020, fostering hopes for grassroots democracy.

Political Realignments:

  • Many opposition leaders were detained or had restricted movement post Article 370’s abrogation.
  • New political entities emerged, and some leaders shifted allegiances, like the alliance between PDP and NC.

Delimitation Commission:

  • A 3-member Commission led by retired SC judge Justice Ranjana Desai was formed to delineate 90 Assembly constituencies.
  • Recommendations included increased seats in Jammu and Kashmir divisions and reserved constituencies for STs and SCs, along with special provisions.

Challenges Ahead for Jammu and Kashmir: Addressing Key Concerns

Grassroot Democracy and Development:

  • Despite the establishment of District Development Councils (DDCs), genuine grassroot democracy remains a challenge.
  • Development plans are often formulated by officials rather than by elected representatives, hampering effective local governance.

Electoral Uncertainty and Protests:

  • The delimitation process sparked speculation about early Assembly elections, but their timing is uncertain.
  • Efforts to include new groups in the state’s Scheduled Tribes (ST) list led to protests from certain communities like the Gujjars and Bakerwals.

Targeted Killings and Security Vulnerabilities:

  • A series of targeted civilian killings, particularly of Kashmiri Hindus and non-Kashmiris, has exposed vulnerabilities despite improved security measures.
  • The security situation is complicated by the use of small weapons dropped by drones and alleged “part-time” militants engaged by handlers from across the border.

-Source: Indian Express


February 2024
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