Jammu and Kashmir has "no vestige" of sovereignty outside the Indian Constitution and its own, while the citizens of the state are "first and foremost" citizens of India, the Supreme Court has observed.
The apex court observed this while terming as "wholly incorrect" the conclusion arrived at by Jammu and Kashmir high court which had held that the state has "absolute sovereign power" to legislate laws touching the rights of its permanent residents regarding their immovable properties.
"The State of Jammu and Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own Constitution, which is subordinate to the Constitution of India," a bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice RF Nariman said.
"It is therefore wholly incorrect to describe it as being sovereign in the sense of its residents constituting a separate and distinct class in themselves. The residents of Jammu and Kashmir, we need to remind the high court, are first and foremost citizens of India," it said.
The apex court said this while holding that provisions of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act) are within the legislative competence of Parliament and can be enforced in Jammu and Kashmir.
The bench set aside the verdict of Jammu and Kashmir high court that had held that any law made by Parliament, which affects the laws made by state legislature, cannot be extended to Jammu and Kashmir.
"The high court judgment begins from the wrong end and therefore reaches the wrong conclusion. It states that in terms of Section 5 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, the state has absolute sovereign power to legislate in respect of laws touching the rights of its permanent residents qua their immovable properties," the apex court said.
It further said, "We may also add that permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir are citizens of India, and there is no dual citizenship as is contemplated by some other federal Constitutions in other parts of the world".
The apex court judgement came on the appeal by State Bank of India (SBI) against the high court verdict which had held that the SARFAESI Act would collide with the Transfer of Property Act of Jammu & Kashmir, 1920.
SARFAESI is an enactment which entitles banks to enforce their security interest outside the court process to take possession of secured assets of the borrower and sell them outside the court process.