Abrogation of Article 370 completes the process of integration of Kashmir with India. Comment. (250 Words)

Mentors Comments:
1. Discuss Art. 370 briefly
2. Discuss how Art 370 limited integration with the rest of India
3. Discuss if its abrogation will finish integration – what is left
4. Provide your opinion as a conclusion

The Centre government recently revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir and brought in the J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019 which splits the state into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh without one.

Article 370 of the Indian constitution is an article that gives autonomous status to the state of
Jammu and Kashmir. The article is drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution: Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions, but it has become a Permanent feature.

Art 370 has limited integration with the rest of India in following ways-
1. Article 370 has prevented J&K to merge with India rather than being a basis of its merger.
2. Article 370 was seen as discriminatory on the basis of gender, class, caste and place of origin.
3. Post the repeal of the Article 370, doors to private investment in J&K would be opened, which would in turn increase the potential for development there.
4. Increased investments would lead to increased job creation and further betterment of socio-economic infrastructure in the state.
5. Opening of buying of lands would bring in investments from private individuals and multinational companies and give a boost to the local economy.
6. There is a legal provision in India that places of religious worship cannot be misused for political purposes. But this provision does not apply to J&K. It leads to a situation where separatism gets legally recognised. The government remains a mere spectator when separatist leaders give anti-India speeches from the ramparts of the mosque routinely after Friday prayers.
7. Corruption corrodes developmental processes in India, and the situation of J&K is no different. The jurisdiction of institutions like CAG, Lokpal, CBI etc. do not extend to J&K due to Article 370.
8. RTI is not applicable to the state. Hence, the people of the state are deprived of the right to information. It means that an important aspect of democracy, transparency and accountability remains missing from the State. The civil society of the state lacks this RTI tool to fight corruption.
9. Separatist politics in J&K has a negative bearing on inter-communal relations and perceptions in other states of the Indian Union.

However, it has led to following issues-
1. The reduction of the state to a union territory will give a fillip to the concept of constitution being more unitary
2. The mechanism that the government used to railroad its rigid ideological position on Jammu and Kashmir through the Rajya Sabha was both hasty and stealthy. This move will strain India’s social fabric not only in its impact on Jammu and Kashmir but also in the portents it holds for federalism, parliamentary democracy and diversity.
3. The passing of legislation as far-reaching as dismembering a State without prior consultations has set a new low.
4. The entire exercise of getting Article 370 of the Constitution effectively abrogated has been marked by executive excess.
5. A purported process to change the constitutional status of a sensitive border State has been achieved without any legislative input or representative contribution from its people.
6. While it is true that in 1961 the Supreme Court upheld the President’s power to ‘modify’ the constitutional provisions in applying them to J&K, it is a moot question whether this can be invoked to make such a radical change: a functioning State has now been downgraded and bifurcated into two Union Territories.

Challenges ahead:
1. The move will be legally challenged on grounds of procedural infirmities and, more substantively, that it undermines the basic feature of the compact between Delhi and Srinagar that was agreed upon in 1947.
2. However, the Supreme Court will consider that Article 370 does, indeed, give sweeping powers to the President. It might also take two to three years for a Constitution Bench of the court to decide such a challenge.
3. Law and order maintenance challenge.
4. But beyond the legality, the real test will be on the streets of Srinagar, Jammu and Delhi once the security cordon is lifted from the State.
5. Abrogating the article altogether may threaten the peace in the state which is already a hotspot of conflicts and militancy.

The significant move opens up potential opportunities for development-led economic growth in the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. However, the move is bound to have a significant impact on the demography, culture, and politics of J&K. The special status of J&K was meant to end, but only with the concurrence of its people. The decision could have unintended and dangerous consequences.

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