New Delhi: A three-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court is set to hear on Friday petitions challenging the validity of Article 35A which relates to special privileges of permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. NGO We the Citizens challenged 35A in the apex court in 2014 on the grounds that it was not added to the Constitution through an amendment. It was never even presented before Parliament. Article 35A  was added to the Constitution by a Presidential Order in 1954.

Another petition filed by J-K native Charu Wali Khanna challenges Art 35A for protecting certain provisions of the state Constitution which restrict the basic right to property if a native woman marries a man not holding a permanent resident certificate. “Her children are denied a permanent resident certificate, thereby considering them illegitimate,” the petition said.

Here’s what one needs to know about Article 35A:

  1. The constitution empowers the J&K legislature to define the state’s ‘permanent residents’ and their special rights and privileges.
  2. The Article, also referred to as the Permanent Residents law, prohibits non-permanent residents from permanent settlement in the state, acquiring property, government jobs, scholarships and aid.
  3. The Article is considered discriminatory against women in that it disqualifies them from their rights in the state if they marry non-permanent residents.
  4. A 2002 judgement had held that such women do not lose their rights but their children do not have succession rights.
  5. Last year, a Supreme Court Bench tagged the Khanna petition with the We the Citizens case, which has been referred to a three-judge Bench.

There has been many voices on Art 35A, both for and against it. The Kashmiri Muslims feel abrogation of Article 35A would cause demographic change in the Valley. Some others say that abrogation of 35A is the “permanent solution” to the Kashmir issue.