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Supreme Court to hear Pleas challenging Article 35A after Diwali, which talks about Special Rights and privileges of Permanent Residents of Jammu and Kashmir

Article 35A talks about special rights and privileges given to only permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir

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The Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia
  • The plea said that the special status which people of Jammu and Kashmir enjoys should be canceled
  • In 1954 by a Presidential Order, Article 35A was added to the Indian Constitution
  • The Plea has also challenged a particular provision of the Constitution which denies the right over the property to a woman who marries someone who is from outside the state 

New Delhi (India), August 25, 2017: After Diwali, the Supreme Court of India will hear pleas which challenge the Article 35A, the article talks about special rights and privileges given to people who are permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Supposedly, the date decided for the hearing of pleas was August 29 but both the Centre and state government of Jammu and Kashmir wanted 4 weeks’ time in order to file their replies respectively, due to this reason the hearing has been postponed to a later date.

The plea said that the special status which people of Jammu and Kashmir enjoys should be canceled.

The Supreme Court was earlier in favor of hearing the case by a constitution bench consisting of 5 judges if the Article 35A is ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority) of the Indian Constitution or if there is any sort of procedural lapse (defective execution of work).

Also Read: Landmark Judgement: Right to Privacy Becomes Fundamental Right of India, Rules Supreme Court

The meaning of Article 35A as per Constitution is that the article gives the right to the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir to call them permanent residents of that state and also give those (permanent residents) some special rights and privileges whereas by article 370 a special status is given to the state- Jammu and Kashmir.

In 1954 by a Presidential Order, Article 35A was added to the Indian Constitution. According to ANI report, “It also empowers the state’s legislature to frame any law without attracting a challenge on grounds of violating the Right to Equality of people from other states or any other right under the Indian Constitution.” This is the kind of power that this Article holds.

This Article was dragged into controversy after a 2nd plea, was filed by a lawyer and former member of the National Commission for Women Charu Wali Khanna. In her plea, she challenged Article 35A of the Indian Constitution and also Section 6 (talks of permanent residents of the state) of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution.

Also Read: Long pending injustice to Muslim Women! Supreme Court Hearing in India to Decide Validity of Muslim Divorce Practice “Triple Talaq”

The Plea has also challenged a particular provision of the Constitution which denies the right over the property to a woman who marries someone who is from outside the state. This provision which leads the woman to lose rights over property is also applied to her son.


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State Legislature Working on Easy Access to Birth Control

The measures are seeing bipartisanship support in those states and come after similar laws have passed in nearly a dozen other states

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Several Republican-led state legislatures are advocating for women to gain over-the-counter access to birth control in what they say is an effort to reduce unplanned pregnancies and abortions, Ames, Iowa, March 15, 2019. VOA

Several Republican-led state legislatures are advocating for women to gain over-the-counter access to birth control in what they say is an effort to reduce unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

State legislatures in Arkansas and Iowa, for example, are working on legislation that would allow women older than 18 the ability to receive birth control from a pharmacist rather than going first to a doctor for a prescription. The measures are seeing bipartisanship support in those states and come after similar laws have passed in nearly a dozen other states.

Arkansas legislation

Arkansas state Representative Aaron Pilkington, a Republican, said he started working on the bill after seeing “about a 15 percent decrease of teen births” after other states passed similar legislation. Arkansas consistently has one of the highest birth rates among teenagers in the country.

Pilkington said support for the bill “in many ways, it’s very generational. … I find that a lot of younger people and women are really in favor of this, especially mothers.”

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Iowa state legislators have proposed a bill that would allow women to access birth control directly from a pharmacist, Ames, Iowa, March 15, 2019. VOA

According to the Oral Contraceptive (OCs) Over the Counter (OTC) Working Group, a reproductive rights group, more than 100 countries, including Russia, much of South America and countries in Africa, allow access to birth control without a prescription.

Women are required to get a doctor’s prescription to obtain and renew birth control in most of the U.S., much of Europe, Canada and Australia, according to the reproductive rights group.

Pilkington, who identifies as a “pro-life legislator,” said he brought the bill forward partly as an effort to counter unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The bill would require a doctor’s visit about every two years to renew the prescription.

Rural residents

Arkansas has a population of about 3 million people, a third of whom live in rural areas. Pilkington said the bill would likely benefit women who reside in rural areas or those who have moved to new cities and aren’t under a doctor’s care yet.

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Arkansas state Rep. Aaron Pilkington, a Republican, said he started working on a bill easing women’s access to birth control after seeing “about a 15 percent decrease of teen births” after other states passed similar legislation. VOA

“A lot of times when they’re on the pill and they run out, they’ve gotta get a doctor’s appointment, and the doctor says, ‘I can’t see you for two months,’” he said. “Some people have to drive an hour and a half to see their PCP (primary care physician) or OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynecologist), so this makes a lot of sense.”

What Pilkington is proposing is not new. In 2012, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorsed the idea of making birth control available without a prescription. Today, at least 11 other states have passed legislation allowing for patients to go directly to the pharmacist, with some caveats.

In October, ahead of a tight midterm race, Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds raised a few eyebrows when she announced she would prioritize over-the-counter access to birth control in her state. Like Pilkington, she cited countering abortion as a main driver behind the proposed legislation. The bill closely models much of the language used in another Republican-sponsored bill In Utah that passed last year with unanimous support.

The planned Iowa legislation comes after the Republican-led state Legislature passed a bill in 2017 that rejected $3 million in federal funds for family-planning centers like Planned Parenthood.

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FILE – Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivers her inaugural address in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 18, 2018. VOA

The loss of federal funds forced Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit organization that provides health care and contraception for women, to close four of its 12 clinics in the state.

Since then, Jamie Burch Elliott, public affairs manager of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland in Iowa, said that anecdotal evidence shows that sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies have gone up.

“With family planning, it takes time to see the impacts, so there are long-term studies going on to really study the impact of this,” said Burch Elliott. “Right away, we saw STI (sexually transmitted infections) and STD (sexually transmitted diseases) rates go up, particularly chlamydia and gonorrhea. As far as unintended pregnancy rates, we are hearing that they are rising, although the data is not out yet.”

Pro-life pushback

So far the Iowa legislation has received some pushback, mostly from a few pro-life groups.

The Iowa Right to Life organization has remained neutral on the issue of birth control, but the Iowa Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the bishops of Iowa, and Iowans for LIFE, a nonprofit anti-abortion organization, have come out against the bill, citing concerns that birth control should not be administered without a visit to a physician.

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, center, talks with State Rep. Heather Matson, right, at the Ankeny Area Democrats’ Winter Banquet, Feb. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. VOA

Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for LIFE, also pointed out that oral contraception can be an “abortifacient [that] sometimes cause abortions,” challenging Reynolds’ motivation for introducing the bill.

On the other hand, Iowa family-planning organizations and Democratic legislators are mostly on board.

ALSO READ: Researchers Probing if Tobacco’s Native Forms Less Harmful

“Policywise, I think this is really good,” said Heather Matson, a state representative of a district located just outside the state capital, Des Moines. She appreciated that insurance will still cover birth control, but took issue with the age restriction, saying she would like to see an option for people younger than 18. “Is it exactly the bill that I would have written, if given the opportunity? Not exactly.”

“Policywise, I think this is really good,” said Heather Matson, a state representative of a district located just outside the state capital, Des Moines. She appreciated that insurance will still cover birth control, but took issue with the age restriction, saying she would like to see an option for people younger than 18. “Is it exactly the bill that I would have written, if given the opportunity? Not exactly.” (VOA)