The move has undone seven decades of official policy and taken the country into uncharted legal and political territory.
After the advent of Modi-Shah, several Congress leaders from across states have not only come into the BJP but have been absorbed and given important political positions and assignments. Credit: PTI
In a surgical strike on two key elements of the Constitution that define the powers of states of the Indian Union, in general, and the state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular, the Narendra Modi government has undone seven decades of official policy and taken the country into uncharted legal and political territory.
What’s the news?
Against the backdrop of massive troop deployments in J&K, the house arrest of mainstream politicians and the ouster of all tourists and Amarnath yatris from the state, Union home minister Amit Shah announced in the Rajya Sabha at 11 am on Monday that the government had decided to do away with J&K’s special constitutional status. This has been a longstanding promise of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Also surprising, as the BJP has never spoken of it before, Shah introduced a Bill to essentially abolish Jammu and Kashmir as a state of the Indian Union and replace it with two separate Union Territories — the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the UT of Ladakh.
“The Union Territory of Ladakh will be without legislature,” Amit Shah said. “Further, keeping in view the prevailing internal security situation fueled by cross-border terrorism in the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir, a separate Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is being created. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be with legislature.”
Amid protests in the house, Shah said President Ram Nath Kovind had issued a presidential order, exercising his power under Clause 1 of Article 370, to make all provisions of the Constitution effectively applicable to J&K. Earlier, only those provisions with which the J&K government concurred would be applicable.
Presidential Order on Jammu and Kashmir and Article 370
Rather than abrogating or repealing Article 370, the government has essentially read down its provisions and used the legal fiction of the governor – who is a Central appointee – being the ‘state government’ to justify the president’s order.
Is this legal?