On Monday, 5th August 2019, Article 370 and Article 35A got scrapped out, withdrawing the special status from Jammu and Kashmir, by Ram Nath Kovind, the president of India. This was a huge move initiated by the NDA government.
Let us understand what Article 370 is
Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was a ‘temporary provision’ that granted special autonomous status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This article restricted the central government of India to apply laws in the state related purely to defence, foreign affairs, finance and communication. For the application of any other law, the government had to take concurrence of the state government of Jammu and Kashmir. Further, under Article 370, the state also had its own constitution, different from that of the Indian constitution. This meant that the residents of the state were governed by a different set of rules and laws which include laws related to citizenship, land and property ownership, and fundamental rights. An interesting fact to know is that till yesterday, the state didn’t even share India’s national anthem. Any Indian law and provision under the Indian Constitution which is applicable in all other Indian states was thus inapplicable in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Under Article 370, the residents of other states had no provision to own land in Jammu and Kashmir, nor set up and operate a business there. The centre too had no power of calling for a financial emergency. The central government only had the power to declare an emergency in case of war-like situation or external aggression. For declaring any other kind of emergency, the agreement of the state was required by the centre or only when the state itself asked for a declaration of such emergency.
What is Article 35A?
Introduced in 1954, Article 35A stems from Article 370. This article belonging to the state’s legislature defines the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir and the special rights and privileges they are entitled to.
After the NDA government revoked both, Article 370 as well as Article 35A, here are the changes that will take place:
- No special status will be given to Jammu and Kashmir
- Jammu and Kashmir now to be union territories.
- The residents of the state, who until now held dual citizenship will only have single citizenship like any other Indian
- All laws of the Indian Constitution will now be applicable in Jammu and Kashmir as well.
- Jammu and Kashmir will no longer have a constitution of its own.
- The centre will now be able to declare all kinds of emergency without the state’s (now union territories) concurrence. Under article 360, the union government will also have the power to declare a financial emergency in the state.
- The RTI act will now be applicable in both Jammu and Kashmir.
- Jammu and Kashmir will no longer have their separate flag and national anthem. They will fall under India’s tri colour.
How will the scrapping of Article 370 benefit the people of the nation?
The abrogation of article 370 will now enable Indian citizens from anywhere in the nation to own land/property in Jammu and Kashmir. Not just this, but, those interested to set up and operate businesses and companies can go ahead and do it just like they could in any other Indian state. Women of Jammu and Kashmir will now have equal rights over the property. The non-Kashmiris will now get jobs in the state. Moreover, the Kashmiri Pandits who were made to flee outside of Kashmir by subjecting them to violence and injustice will also be rightfully restored in the state.
It is important to know that now Jammu and Kashmir has not only lost its special status but also no longer remains a state. It is reduced to being union territories. Other than this, Ladakh too is now a union territory. While Jammu and Kashmir will have their own legislature just like the union territory of Delhi and Puducherry, Ladakh will have no legislature just like the union territory of Chandigarh. This also means that Jammu and Kashmir will now have a lieutenant governor instead of having a governor.
Since this historic change has been brought about in the country, we must know the key difference between a state and a union territory.
The major difference between a union territory and state is that a union territory is an administrative unit that is directly governed by the union/central government whereas the state has its own people elected government.
Unlike the states that share a federal relation with the central government, the union territories share a unitary relationship.
Each state is governed by the people elected chief minister but a union territory is governed by the administrative body set up by the president of the country. A union territory has a lieutenant governor who is the representative of the president.
Union territories do not have representation in the upper house of the Indian parliament except for Delhi and Puducherry, whereas every state has representatives in the Rajya Sabha.
What is a union territory with and without legislature?
Union Territory With Legislature: Such a kind has the right to form its own government with its elected members. It has its own assembly and elected MLA. However, the power of such a government is less as compared to the state government. Such a union territory does not have a Vidhan Parishad or upper house. Any final decision to be taken rests with the lieutenant governor appointed by the centre.
Union Territory Without Legislature: Such kind like Chandigarh and (now Ladakh) is directly governed by the centre and has no legislature/government of its own. While Union territories like Delhi and Puducherry (and now Jammu and Kashmir) have elected representatives in the Rajya Sabha, a union territory without legislature does not have any representative in the Rajya Sabha, but only in the Lok Sabha (lower house of the parliament)
Amit Shah, the home minister of India has said that the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have its own legislature while Ladakh won’t. He even said that these new union territories will regain their statehood when the right time arrives.