5th August 2019 marks a sensational day in the history of our great nation. Finally, the current government has taken a much needed politically spirited step by chopping off Article- 370 from the Indian Constitution which could well be another important step towards introducing and achieving Uniform Civil Code in the country.
Article- 370 of the Indian Constitution was only initiated as a ‘temporary provision’ in 1954 which guaranteed to allow self-governing status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir which further limited the power of the Indian Parliament to make laws for the state.
Under Part XXI of the Indian Constitution titled “temporary, transitional and special provisions", Article- 370 was designated as only a “temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir".
Also, Article- 370 enumerates that except for communications, defence and foreign affairs, the Indian Parliament will need the state government's agreement for soliciting all other laws. As a result, the Kashmiri residents lived under distinguished laws, which included laws related to ownership of property, citizenship as well as and the fundamental rights, in contrast to other Indian citizens. Moreover, under 370, there was no power with the Central government to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in J&K. The Centre could only declare emergency in case of an external aggression or during a war.
In addition to J&K, multiple other states but mostly Tribal areas have been granted this unique status. For instance, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Anyhow, J&K is the only state who’s addition of the state to India is still a matter of conflict between India and Pakistan which is still on the schedule of the United Nations Security Council.
Now, after the Article- 370 has been scrapped any Indian will be able to buy property and even settle permanently in the valley. Due to this, Kashmiris are in fear as they think this would result to the state's demographic transformation to majority Hindu from majority Muslim.
Apart from this, J&K will now be a separate Union Territory with legislature. This has been done keeping in mind the existing internal security situation, provoked by cross- border terrorism in J&K.
Moreover, Ladakh region has also been given the status of a Union Territory, but without a legislature. The UT of Ladakh will now comprise the districts of Leh and Kargil, on the other hand J&K will be now be UT of J&K. However, the UT of Ladakh won’t have its own legislature, but the UT of J&K will have its separate Legislative Assembly (like in a State to draft laws). Therefore, the 4 Rajya Sabha representatives of the existing state of J&K will now represent the UT of J&K. However, UT of Ladakh won’t have any representatives in Rajya Sabha. In addition, UT of J&K will now have 5 representatives in Lok Sabha and UT of Ladakh will have one representative.
As a result of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, the current Governor of J&K Sh. Satya Pal Malik will now be designated as the Lieutenant Governor of both the Union Territories.
As stated in the Indian Constitution, Article- 370 could only be revised/ redesigned in accordance with the "state government" i.e. J&K. Though there has not exactly been a stable state government in J&K for more than one year now.
In June 2018, India inflicted federal rule after the then state government led by the then CM- Mehbooba Mufti, was diminished to a minority. As a result, the Central Government only had to seek Governor’s consent which they did and therefore, no legal or constitutional error can be found in the decision to scrap Article- 370.
The Central Government has been reiterating that it is well within its liberty to bring in the changes and that similar resolutions have been pulled off by Central Governments in the past.
Other significant changes will include:
|Before Axing Article- 370||After Axing Article- 370|
|1||Special powers exercised by J&K||No special powers now|
|2||Dual Citizenship||Single Citizenship|
|3||No reservation for minorities||Minorities will be eligible for reservation|
|4||Indian citizens could not buy property in J&K (Article- 35A)||Indian citizens eligible to buy property in UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh (Article- 35A axed)|
|5||Article-360 (Financial Emergency) not applicable||Article-360 applicable now|
|6||Article-356 (Central Government taking control when State Government cannot) not applicable||Article-356 applicable now|
|7||Separate Kashmir Flag||Tricolour Indian Flag|
|8||Right to Information (RTI) was not applicable||RTI applicable now|
|9||Duration of Legislative Assembly was 6 years||Assembly duration in UT of J&K and UT of Ladakh will be 5 years|