SC defers hearing on Article 35; Kashmir shuts down for second day (File Photo)
The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned its hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of Section 35-A, which gives a special status to the people in Jammu and Kashmir, preventing non-locals from buying and owning any immovable property in the state. The apex court deferred its hearing, citing the absence of one out of three judges on the bench.
A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar and Justice D Y Chandrachud was scheduled to resume the crucial hearing on Monday, but had to defer the same following Chandrachud's absence in the court.
The apex court, however, has listed the matter for further hearing on August 27 and will consider whether the case should to be referred to a larger bench. The issue will be dealt with by a five-judge bench, in case the Article violates the basic structure of the Constitution or is ultra vires.
Meanwhile, the normal life in Kashmir continued to be out of gear for the second consecutive day on a call for shutdown by separatists, who have been protesting the government's alleged move to tamper with Article 35-A.
Srinagar again woke up to desolate roads with educational institutions, shops, business establishments and all kinds of transport remained close across the valley on Monday as well.
Separatists leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) called for a two-day strike between August 5 and August 6 as they fear that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir will be 'tinkered' under a legal grab.
Article 35A, incorporated in the Constitution by a 1954 Presidential Order, confers special status to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, and bars people from outside the state from acquiring any land in the state.
Several mainstream political parties, including the National Conference moved the apex court in support of the Article, saying it serves as an important link between the state and the Union and its people and maintains a fine balance of constitutional federalism.
Various organisations, including the state bar association, transporters and traders' bodies have also extended their support to the shutdown call. Different religious and social organisations have given nod to the two-day strike to "safeguard" the constitutional provision.
Meanwhile, the large-scale protest also witnessed stone pelting incidents, leaving six people injured in Kulgam district on Sunday. In the wake of this violence, security forces have been deployed at vulnerable places in the city and elsewhere in Kashmir for maintaining law and order.
There were also reports of partial strike and peaceful rallies in support of the Article 35-A from the Chenab valley districts of Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar.
On Monday, the Amarnath yatra remained suspended for the second consecutive day to avoid any untoward incident in and around the state. The traffic from Jammu to Srinagar on the national highway has also been suspended in the view of the strike.