Govt scraps Article 370; Ladakh to be separate UT

The government on Monday moved a draft resolution in the Rajya Sabha to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution that allows special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

It introduced a new Presidential order called The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019. “All the provisions of the Constitution” shall apply in relation to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, it said.

This came into force at once and superseded the constitutional provisions extended to J&K in 1954 and amended any time later, said the order issued on Monday by President Ram Nath Kovind.

In other words, Article 370 shall cease to be the guiding principle. The resolution will need to be passed by the House. The Presidential Order, till then, changes the various sections that applied to the state.

The government has added in the Article 367 of the Constitution a clause 4 which makes four

“Reference to this Constitution or to the provisions thereof shall be construed as references to the Constitution or the provisions thereof as applied in relations to Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.

The order said references to the person for the time being recognised by the president on the recommendation of the Legislative Assembly of the State as the Sadar-i-Riyasat of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the state for the time being in office, shall be construed as references to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.

References to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir shall be construed as including references to the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of his Council of Ministers, it said.

In proviso to clause (3) of Article 370 of this Constitution, the expression “Constituent Assembly of the State referred to in clause (2)” shall read “Legislative Assembly of the State”, it said.

The BJP had made a poll promise to scrap the Article and has long held the position that it was a hindrance to amalgamate the state into the mainstream.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah, making a suo motu statement in the Rajya Sabha, said Article 370 (3) that allowed the President powers to deal with the state had been used to allow this resolution.

Chairman of Rajya Sabha M Venkaiah Naidu allowed Shah to introduce the Bill.

The Home Minister also introduced a draft resolution to ‘reorganise’ the status of the state, seeking creation of the union territory of Ladakh directly governed by New Delhi. Kashmir and Jammu division will be a separate union territory, but  with legislature, Shah announced in the Rajya Sabha.

Shah also moved the J&K Reservation Bill for consideration and passage amid sloganeering.

Text of the resolutions presented in the Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah:

(i) “’That this House recommends the following public notification to be issued by the President of India under Article 370 (3):

‘In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (3) of article 370 read with clause (1) of article 370 of the Constitution of India, the President, on the recommendation of the Parliament, is pleased to declare that, as from 5th of August, 2019, all clauses of the said article 370 shall cease to be operative except clause (1) thereof which shall read as under, namely:

“All provisions of this Constitution, as amended from time to time, without any modifications or exceptions, shall apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir notwithstanding anything contrary contained in article 152 or article 308 or any other article of this Constitution or any other provision of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir or any law, document, judgement, ordinance, order, byelaw, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usage having the force of law i‘n the territory of India, or any other instrument, treaty or agreement as envisaged under article 363 or otherwise.’”

(ii) “That the President of India has referred the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 to this House under the proviso to article 3 of the Constitution of India for its views as this House is vested with the powers of the State Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir, as per proclamation of the President of India dated 19th”

Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said three former chief ministers are under house arrest and there is a curfew-like situation in the state. “It is a war-like situation. We should first discuss the situation in the state instead of the Bill,” he said.

However, the BSP has supported the government on scrapping of Article 370.

Earlier in the morning, the Prime Minister held a Cabinet meeting at his Lok Kalyan Marg residence. After the meeting, officials informed that Home Minister Amit Shah will make a statement in Parliament.

Official said that Shah will make a statement in Rajya Sabha shortly followed by Lok Sabha at noon. There is anticipation that there could be some announcement on Kashmir by the Home Minister.

Before the Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister also held one-on-one meetings with Amit Shah and Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, which lasted for over an hour.

Sources say External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reached the Prime Minister’s residence around 9.25 am, and the Home Minister was already there.

Meanwhile, Union Home Ministry has issued an advisory for all communally sensitive areas in the country.

The meeting comes after political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone, were placed under house arrest as strict restrictions were imposed in the Kashmir Valley from early Monday morning.

The state administration has also imposed Section 144 in Srinagar, as well as in Jammu, while mobile Internet services have also been suspended. Even the telephone services of BSNL and other private operators have been shut.

Source: Originally posted in Tribune