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Truth and Reconciliation Commission


Recently, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the abrogation of Article 370 by the Centre in 2019 and also recommended setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to look into alleged violations of human rights by both state and non-state actors in Jammu & Kashmir.


GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): An Overview
  2. Article 370: Special Status for Jammu and Kashmir

Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC): An Overview

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission, often referred to as a ‘truth and justice commission’ or simply a ‘truth commission’, is an official mechanism designed to acknowledge and expose wrongdoings, primarily by a government or non-state actors.

  • Focus on the Past:
    • Concentrates on historical wrongs rather than ongoing events.
    • Investigates a pattern of events occurring over a specified period.
  • Engagement with the Affected Population:
    • Direct and broad engagement with the affected population.
    • Gathers information on their experiences related to the specified events.
  • Temporary Body:
    • Operates as a temporary body with a defined lifespan.
    • Aims to conclude its activities with the issuance of a final report.
  • Official Authorization:
    • Officially authorized and empowered by the state under review.
    • Functions with the consent and support of the relevant government.
Nations with Established TRCs:
  • South Africa:
    • Notable for the TRC established in 1995 post-apartheid to uncover human rights violations during the apartheid era.
  • Australia and Canada:
    • Acknowledged for their truth commissions, contributing to reconciliation efforts.
  • India’s Neighborhood:
    • Sri Lanka and Nepal have instituted truth commissions to address historical grievances.
  • TRCs play a crucial role in facilitating truth-telling, acknowledging past injustices, and fostering reconciliation within societies that have experienced significant historical trauma.

Article 370: Special Status for Jammu and Kashmir

Article 370 in the Indian constitution conferred special status upon Jammu and Kashmir, a region with disputed claims by India, Pakistan, and China. It was framed by N Gopalaswami Ayyangar, a member of the Constituent Assembly of India, and was incorporated into the constitution in 1949 as a ‘temporary provision.’

Key Provisions:
  • Temporary Provision:
    • Article 370 was included as a temporary measure, intending to provide a special status until a final resolution was reached.
  • Autonomy Except in Specific Areas:
    • Jammu and Kashmir had the liberty to have its own constitution, flag, and autonomy over most matters.
    • Excluded defense, foreign affairs, and communications, which remained under the jurisdiction of the Indian government.
  • Instrument of Accession:
    • Rooted in the terms of the Instrument of Accession signed in 1947.
    • The ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed the instrument to accede to India following an invasion by Pakistan.
Historical Context:
  • Article 370 was introduced to address the unique circumstances surrounding Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India and was considered a provisional arrangement.
Impact and Controversy:
  • Over time, Article 370 became a contentious issue, with debates about its relevance, special provisions, and the constitutional relationship between Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India.
  • In 2019, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took a significant step by abrogating Article 370, thereby revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024