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HomeNewsDaily Nuggets from Art.370 legacy-1

Daily Nuggets from Art.370 legacy-1

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         By    Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan

A monumental hearing commences tomorrow – 2nd August,2023, before the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court. The court may have made it clear that their singular would be on ‘constitutionality’ of the issue. Not where it began, how it moved, and where it is today and the impact on the ground in J$K and India.

The self-same Suoreme Court had said that ‘debates in the constituent assembly leading to the constitution was akin to the 85 Federalist Papers leading to the 1789 US Constitution”. So the debates matter. And that is now settled law. What of the views, statements, stance abd expressions of the protagonists at that time. It makes sense to begin this Nugget series, commencing on 1st Day of Aug,2023, through the hearings, culminating in Orders being Reserved. Let us join the debate,discourse in decision with the Supreme Court of India, in this nugget series as it sizzles with vignettes strewn across the turf. Let us begin with the two topmost protagonists or actors in the drama in the making of Art.306-A which morphed into Art.370.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, played a crucial role in the formulation and adoption of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Article 370 was introduced as a “temporary provision” in the Constitution, granting special autonomous status to the region of Jammu and Kashmir.

article 370
pic curtesy India today

Nehru’s stance on Article 370 was based on the historical context and the unique circumstances surrounding Jammu and Kashmir’s accession to India. He saw Article 370 as a ‘transitory measure’ intended to provide ‘temporary autonomy’  to the region, allowing it to gradually integrate with the rest of India while respecting its distinct identity, culture, and laws.

Nehru believed that granting this special status to Jammu and Kashmir would help build trust and facilitate a peaceful assimilation of the region into the Indian Union. However, over the years, Article 370 faced criticism from various quarters for allegedly hindering the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India. On August 5, 2019, the Indian government abrogated Article 370, revoking the region’s special status and reorganizing it into two separate union territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. This decision was highly contentious and remains a subject of debate in the country, which has landed in the lap of the law lords on the pulpit.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the chairman of the Constituent Assembly’s drafting committee, was opposed to the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. He believed that the article would create a “dangerous precedent” and undermine the unity and integrity of India.

In a speech to the Constituent Assembly on May 16, 1949, Ambedkar said:

“I am not prepared to accept Article 306-A [later renamed Article 370] in its present form. I am not prepared to accept it because I think it is a dangerous precedent. I think it is a dangerous precedent because it is going to create a kind of privileged class in India. It is going to create a kind of State within a State.”

Ambedkar also argued that the article would give the Government of Jammu and Kashmir too much power and would make it difficult for the Indian government to intervene in the state in the event of a crisis.

However, Ambedkar’s objections were overruled by the Constituent Assembly, and Article 370 was adopted in its present form.

We will go wherever it takes us from tomorrow, as the hearing begins. Join me.

( Author of Constitution and its Making/Working- OakBridge, is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)


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