Several Jammu-centric parties demand for scrapping of Article 370, arguing that it prevents state’s complete integration with Indian Union. But Kashmir-centric parties believe that total abrogation of Article 370 would lead to trouble. Looks like even just the mention of Article 370 erupts division within state.
But what is Article 370? What is it’s significance for Indian Union?
Jammu & Kashmir also got Independence from the British rule in 1947. However, unlike other princely states, Kashmir was not yet ripe for integration. It had three options to choose from – To remain an independent country; to join Dominion of India; or to join Dominion of Pakistan.
Raja Hari Singh, the then king of J&K decided not to join Indian union and stay as an independent state. On October 20, 1947, Pakistan-backed “Azad Kashmir Army” attacked and confiscated a part of Kashmir region, today known as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Considering the deteriorating situation of Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh sought India’s help.
This required him to sign the “Instruments of Accession” (IoA) with India.
Under the IoA, Jammu and Kashmir surrendered three subjects – Defence, Foreign affairs and Communications. In order to bring the provisions into action, Article 370 was incorporated in the Constitution of India. Provisions of the article 370 came into force from 17 November, 1952.
The provision was drafted in 1947 by Sheikh Abdullah, who had by then been appointed prime minister of Jammu & Kashmir by Maharaja Hari Singh and Jawahar Lal Nehru. Sheikh Abdullah had argued that Article 370 should not be placed under temporary provisions of the Constitution. He wanted ‘iron clad autonomy’ for the state, which Centre didn’t comply with
Provisions of Article 370
The agreement meant that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India but the state has special provisions. Article 370 assured that people of J&K would draft their own constitution through their own constituent Assembly.
Except for defence, foreign affairs and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws to J&K. In other words, the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to the state.
The Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir. It can declare emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Union government can therefore not declare emergency on grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger unless it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the state government. Moreover, no Indian is allowed dual citizenship but people of Jammu and Kashmir have Indian and Kashmiri citizenship.
The current regime is pushing for its removal. It remains to be seen what follows.