SC sets aside J-K court ruling

Though Jammu and Kashmir enjoys special status under Article 370, it cannot claim sovereignty outside the Indian Constitution for being an integral part of the country and its residents are “first and foremost“ citizens of India, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice R F Nariman set aside the judgement of Jammu and Kashmir high court which had held that the state enjoyed sovereign powers to legislate in respect of laws touching the rights of its permanent residents with respect to their immovable properties.
The court said even though J-K has its own Constitution but it cannot override the provisions of the Indian Constitution. The bench ruled that J-K did not have sovereign powers and it was part of the federal structure of the country. “It is thus clear that the state of Jammu and Kashmir has no vestige of sovereignty outside the Constitution of India and its own constitution is subordinate to the Constitution of India. 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 J-K, we need to remind the high court, are first and foremost citizens of India,“ the bench said.
Referring to the J-K constitution, the bench said there is no mention of “sovereignty“ in it and the people of the state are referred to as `permanent residents' instead of citizens.
“There is no reference to sovereignty . Neither is there any use of the expression `citizen' while referring to its people. The people of J-K for whom special rights are provided in the Constitution are referred to as permanent residents under Part III of the Constitution of J&K. Above all, the Constitution of J-K has been made to further define the existing relationship of the state with the Union of India as an integral part thereof,“ it said. Referring to Section 10 of J&K Constitution which says that permanent residents of the state shall have all the rights guaranteed to them under Constitution of India, the bench said, “They are governed first by the Constitution of India and also by the Constitution of J-K...We have been constrained to observe this because in at least three places the High Court has gone out of its way to refer to a sovereignty which does not exist.“
“It is rather disturbing to note that various parts of the judgement speak of the absolute sovereign powers of the state. It is necessary to reiterate that Section 3 of the Constitution of J-K, which was framed by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of universal adult franchise, makes a ringing declaration that the state of Jammu & Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. And this provision is beyond the pale of amendment,“ the bench said.

No comments: