Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud’s recent remarks have ignited a profound contemplation on the intricacies of Article 35A. The contentious provision has been a focal point of debate, prompting CJI Chandrachud to underscore its impact on fundamental rights. His observation resonated after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, highlighted the discriminatory nature of Article 35A, which granted special rights solely to permanent residents of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In a riveting courtroom exchange, Mehta highlighted how the provision not only impeded fundamental rights but also led to a divisive narrative. He stressed that the citizens were led to believe that these special provisions were a “privilege,” when in fact, they amounted to a clear form of discrimination. Mehta drew attention to the absence of key constitutional elements such as “Socialist,” “Secular,” and “Integrity” in Jammu and Kashmir’s framework.
The solicitor general’s articulation also shed light on the exclusionary practices embedded within Article 35A. He revealed how non-permanent residents of J-K were denied basic rights, such as land ownership, scholarships, and government employment, further deepening the divide. By urging the court to perceive these issues “from the eyes of the people,” Mehta’s plea invited introspection into the human repercussions of these legal complexities.
CJI Chandrachud’s incisive reading of the situation brought forth a crucial realization: that Article 35A had, in essence, curtailed fundamental rights such as equality and the freedom to practice one’s profession across the nation. It also provided a shelter from legal challenges and impeded the power of judicial review. This observation underscores the significant sway that legal provisions can hold over the very fabric of societal norms.
As the discourse unfolds, the nation grapples with the intricate balance between preserving cultural identity and ensuring equal rights. The courtroom dynamic serves as a mirror reflecting the nuances of law and its far-reaching implications. The trajectory of Article 35A is a reminder that the legal landscape is not just a realm of statutes but a tapestry woven with the threads of human experience, inequality, and the pursuit of justice.