The Jammu and Kashmir administration today ruled out any change in its stand on Article 35-A - a law that gives special powers to people of the state - and maintained that only an elected government can argue the matter before the Supreme Court, news agency PTI reported.
The clarification sought to dispel fears that the government may be inclined to repeal the article in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack, which resulted in the death of 40 CRPF soldiers. The top court is currently hearing a bunch of petitions, including one filed by an NGO called "We The Citizens", which challenge its constitutional validity.
Addressing a press meet, administration spokesperson Rohit Kansal said that the state government's stand on requesting delay of the hearing in the case remains unchanged. On February 11, the Jammu and Kashmir government's counsel had sought permission from the Supreme Court to circulate a letter seeking adjournment of an upcoming hearing in the sensitive case because there was no "elected government" in the state.
Mr Kansal also advised the people against panicking on the basis of any "unsubstantiated or exaggerated" piece of information that may be in circulation.
Earlier today, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti had warned that tinkering with Article 370 and Article 35-A of the Constitution would "render null and void" the state's Instrument of Accession with India. Reminding the centre that Jammu and Kashmir had chosen to be with secular India over Pakistan during Partition despite being a Muslim-majority state, she said: "Those frothing at the mouth and calling for its removal shouldn't blame Kashmiris for the developments that follow any such hare-brained decision."
Article 35-A, made a part of the constitution by a 1954 presidential order, defines the term "permanent resident" and gives special rights and privileges to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and bars outsiders from acquiring immovable property there. Petitions in its support have been filed in the top court by political parties such as the National Conference and the Communist Party of India (Marxist).
Jammu and Kashmir had come under President's rule in December last year, paving the way for the Union cabinet to take policy decisions related to the troubled stated. It is currently under the rule of Governor Satya Pal Malik.
(With inputs from PTI)