|Early Times Report|
Jammu, Mar 17: Only last week, one J&K BJP spokesperson participated in a seminar on "Understanding Article 370" at the Jammu Pres Club and demanded its abrogation, saying it had harmed the State and its people, especially the religious and ethnic minorities. The stand that he took in the largely-attended seminar obviously gave the people to understand that the BJP wanted Article 370 to be scrapped.
However, on Wednesday, the J&K Government, which is now controlled by the State Governor, nay by the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre, took a diametrically opposite stand on Article 370 in the Delhi High Court, which reserved its judgment on a plea challenging the constitutional validity of Article 370 of the Constitution that gives special status to J&K.
During the brief hearing, the counsel appearing for J&K told the bench that a similar issue was raised before the Supreme Court but it had refused to intervene in the matter. The counsel claimed that the PIL was "nothing but a politically motivated petition". However, countering the submissions of the Law Department of J&K Government, the lawyer appearing for petitioner Vijayalakshmi Jha argued that the issue raised by her before the high court was different from the matter which was put before the apex court. "In none of these cases (referred to by the counsel for J&K) such issues were raised," the lawyer of Vijayalakshmi Jha said.
The bench consisting of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, after hearing the arguments, asked both parties to file their written submissions within a week.
It bears recalling that in the plea, Vijayalakshmi Jha has contended that "Article 370 was a temporary provision that had lapsed with dissolution of the State's Constituent Assembly in 1957" and said "the question before the court for its consideration was whether the temporary provision lapsed automatically with the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of J&K on January 26, 1957".
She had, in addition, submitted that the "continuance of temporary provision of Article 370, even after dissolution of the Constituent Assembly of J&K, continuance of J&K Constitution which has never got the assent/approval of President of India/Parliament/Government of India, regarding the matter like citizenship, which is in exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament, amounts to fraud on the basic structure of our Constitution,...(as it is) against the sovereignty, integrity, unity of the nation, sovereignty of Parliament etc".
It is pertinent to mention that the Union Government had earlier opposed the plea of Vijayalakshmi Jha, saying the issue had already been considered by the Supreme Court. In July 2014, the country's apex court had dismissed a plea challenging the special status of J&K and asked the petitioner to move the high court, which she did.
The stand which the J&K counsel took on Wednesday in the Delhi High Court on Article 370 must expose the BJP and its dual approach. It is disgusting that on the one hand, the J&K BJP spokespersons are writing articles against Article 370 and demanding its abrogation, on the other, the BJP-controlled Governments in the State and at the Centre have been defending Article 370.
In between, the BJP had subverted the Jammu's mandate in February 2015 by adopting agenda of alliance which not only maintained the existing political and constitutional status of the State but also promised to the Kashmiri leadership something more than Article 370. It had described Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists as "stakeholders" and held out a commitment that the Union Government would tackle the Kashmir issue as per the Atal Bihari Vajpayee's highly questionable "Insaaniyat, Kashmiriyat aur Jamhooriyat" formulation.
The BJP's dual approach has further alienated the people of Jammu and Ladakh, besides internally-displaced Kashmiri Hindus, who have been fighting relentlessly for ensuring their complete merger with India and freedom from the Kashmiri domination and hegemony.