‘State Govt should have impressed on Central Govt to file response’
‘After GST wound on Special Status, this is another machination’
Srinagar: National Conference on Tuesday expressed serious concern over the decision of the Central Government to not file a written response to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court challenging Article 35-A of the Constitution of India. In a statement issued from Party Head Office, ‘Nawa-e-Subha’ in Srinagar, Senior NC Leaders Ali Muhammad Sagar, Abdul Rahim Rather, Muhammad Shafi Uri, Nasir Aslam Wani and Devender Singh Rana have said the Central Government’s decision to remain ambiguous on the very sensitive issue indicated a political intention to support and patronize those forces that want to use the judicial route to launch an assault on Article 35-A and Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
“The decision of the Attorney General to not file a written counter-response to the PIL before it was referred to the three Judge bench of the Supreme Court, has raised many red flags and yet again points towards the fact that the powers that be in New Delhi are patronizing and supporting such moves to question Jammu and Kashmir’s Special Status and State Subject Laws. It is evident that the Central Government wants to abstain from taking a clear position on this issue, an approach which is dangerous and could lead to irreparable damage to the State’s Special Status and its State Subject Laws”, the Senior NC Leaders said in the statement.
“Article 35A of the Constitution of India empowers the Legislature of Jammu and Kashmir to define ‘Permanent Residents’ of the State and subsequently empowers the Legislature to provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. It is the responsibility of the Central Government and the Attorney General to respond to such Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in a transparent, unambiguous and unequivocal manner and that has clearly not happened”, the NC leaders added in the statement.
The NC leaders said the recent extension of the GST regime to J&K through a Presidential Order, robbing the State of its fiscal autonomy, was the most recent instance when the PDP-led State Government and the Central Government had collaborated to inflict irreparable harm on the State’s Autonomy and Special Status. “The wound inflicted on the State’s autonomy through extension of GST is still fresh as another new machination has been launched to question the validity of Article 35A now. While Senior PDP Leaders and the present State Finance Minister initially opposed extension of GST to the State, PDP eventually surrendered and then actively collaborated with the Central Government to decimate the State’s fiscal autonomy regardless of the semantics and contrarian, hollow ‘assertions’ that are being disingenuously portrayed as alleged ‘safeguards’. Now, it has become clear that PDP seems to have teamed up with the powers that be yet again to facilitate an assault on Article 35A”, the NC Leaders further added.
“The assertion of the State’s Finance Minister on the floor of the State Assembly in the presence of the Chief Minister that Article 370 is an ‘obstruction’ in the growth and development of Jammu and Kashmir has clearly exposed the mindset of the PDP, which in its bid to appease the BJP, has committed to them its overt and covert support in abetting the process of abrogation/weakening of Article 370 as also revocation of Article 35A of the Constitution of India before the next Parliamentary Elections to fulfill the long-pending desire of the BJP in this regard. It is pertinent to mention here that abrogation of Article 370 is the bedrock of the philosophy of the BJP/RSS which has been espousing this desire since its very inception. The PDP has taken upon itself the task to ensure that the Jan Sangh slogan ‘Ek Nishan, Ek Vidhan, Ek Pradhan’ becomes a reality”, the Senior NC Leaders said.
The NC leaders also lashed out at PDP for its failure to make BJP and the Central Government stick to the promise of maintaining a ‘status-quo’ on the State’s Special Status – as stated in the ‘Agenda of the Alliance’ between the two parties. “If the PDP-BJP Agenda of the Alliance commits in writing that the BJP and consequently the Central Government would maintain a ‘status-quo’ on the State’s Special Status, why did the Central Government choose to not put up a fight in the shape of an unequivocal and unambiguous written response to the PIL challenging Article 35A in the Supreme Court? This has yet again exposed the rank opportunism and hypocrisy that forms the basis of the PDP-BJP Alliance in the State. If PDP continues to bend its back backwards in this manner, the day is not far when PDP will get completely subsumed into the BJP”, the NC leaders added.
“National Conference realizes the gravity of this issue and hence treats this development with utmost seriousness. While the brazen abdication of responsibility by the Central Government to defend Article 35A in the Supreme Court is self-explanatory and in line with the ideology of BJP and RSS, PDP’s complicity through its silence on this dangerous act of omission is equally disappointing, malicious and condemnable. Clearly PDP has been tasked with facilitating an abrogation of the State’s Special Status and Mehbooba Mufti should realize the onus lies on her and it was primarily her complete lack of understanding and lack of political will to defend the State’s Autonomy that allowed the irrevocable erosion of our Fiscal Autonomy through GST. She has been reduced to a mere figure head whose ignorance and incompetence – as also her insatiable appetite for power – is being exploited to further a longstanding political agenda to erode the State’s Autonomy and revoke its Special Status”, the NC leaders stated.
“We are in the process of getting all possible details of the PIL and the related proceedings and will consult legal and constitutional experts on this issue. National Conference has, and will continue to fight for the State’s Special Status and the restoration of its Autonomy and no power on earth can suppress the State and its people in safeguarding their constitutionally validated political rights”, the statement added.