<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre on Monday bought itself a few months time in the issue pertaining to the constitutional validity of Article 35A that grants special status to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted that the Centre had recently appointed former Intelligence Bureau (IB) director Dineshwar Sharma as the interlocutor in the valley and sought an adjournment for six months.In August, the top court indicated that matters challenging the validity of Article 35A is an issue that should be decided by a five-judge bench. The apex court’s observations were made in response to a petition filed by a Kashmiri woman Dr Charu Wali Khanna, who is settled outside the state of Jammu & Kashmir.Article 35A empowers the state legislature of J & K to define “permanent residents” of the state and provide special rights and privileges to them. Under this article, Indians, except the original inhabitants of the state, are barred from acquiring immovable property in the state or obtain jobs under the state government, and availing state-sponsored scholarship schemes.In her petition, Khanna contended that Article 35A of the Constitution read with Section 6 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir, related to inheritance of properties by non-state subjects, violates the fundamental right to equality guaranteed under Article 14.Khanna challenged the April 20, 1927, notification issued by Maharaja Bahadur of Kashmir, where widows and wives, who lived outside the state had no rights which are otherwise available to state subjects.In 1954, the 90-year notification was given Constitutional sanction under Article 370 by the Jawaharlal Nehru-led government and issued by President Rajendra Prasad.A Delhi based NGO — We the Citizens — filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking the scrapping of Article 35A claiming it to be unconstitutional and violative of fundamental rights. The PIL pleaded that a new article to the Constitution cannot be simply aided by a presidential order as has been done in 1954. According to the law, only Parliament can amend the Constitution. In its plea, the NGO has contended that taking refuge behind the provisions of the article, J&K has been discriminating against non-residents.So far, the Centre has avoided taking a stand. In an earlier hearing, A-G Venugopal submitted, “A conscious decision has been taken not to file any counter affidavit in this case, because the issues which are raised for adjudication, are pure questions of law.”

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Centre advocates talk as it gains time in SC over Art 35A