Report submitted by the Team Dileep Padgaonkar interlocutors for J&K on page 39 makes reference of a report of the European Parliament in 2007, authoured by Baroness Emma Nicholson. She has interpreted the ‘four-point formula’ that had emerged from the Manmohan Singh-Pervez Musharraf talks as providing self-determination for the former princely State. Did the interlocutors taken confirmation from Government of India for the reference as made in the report? This is an important thing to be made notice of. Making such references so casually would only push the innocent people of J&K into more confusing distress.
On page-6 item -V the report even dilutes the scope of the Accession 1947 with India by excluding the subjects of Foreign Affairs and Communication by recommending that: “Parliament will make no laws applicable to the State unless it relates to country’s internal and external security, and it’s vital economic interests especially in the areas of energy and access to water resources…..” The report was even uploaded on the website of the Home Minister, without even giving it a reading. The way Ministry of Home Affairs has handled the interlocutors’ report confirms the continued non-seriousness by the government.
Let us have a look at the myths associated with Article 370: One so commonly made statement is that in case Article 370 is abrogated, J&K will be no more a part of Sovereign Indian Republic. This has gone uncontested at appropriate times and by appropriate authorities. Whereas facts are:
(I) In Article 370 (1-c) it has been mentioned that the provisions of Article I shall apply in relation to that State. It is not because Article 1 applies through Article 370, but Article1 has been mentioned along with Article 370 to demonstrate that Article 1 is totally an Indian Union subject and no any clarifications/interpretations are to be made concerning any matter pertaining to Article 1 and Article 370 as is otherwise needed regarding other subjects of Union or State list. Further under Article 370(1-c) Article 370 and Article 1 have been mention with the word ‘and’ separating them. So, reference of Article 1 in the text of Article 370 should not be misquoted. Similarly The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 also mentions Article 1 and Article 370 separately.
(II) Article 370 is a temporary provision in the Constitution of India for J&K and hence how could it be called a special status provision.
(III) In part-XXI Article 370 is mentioned as ‘temporary Provisions’.
(IV) Article 249 is to operate upon subjects in State List for other Indian States whereas Article 370 is to operate upon the Union and State list pertaining to J&K by the Union Government / Parliament. Some people have still not been allowed to profess that Article 370 is for extension of Constitution of India to J&K but no one says that Article 249 is for extension of Constitution of India to other States.
(V) Shadows have been allowed to overcast the facts that in case Article 370 is amended, Section-3 of J&K Constitution would be there that says that the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India. Also the Article 1 of COI describes J&K as territory of India in first Schedule.
(VI) Article 370 is itself a temporary provision; it nowhere has any reference of autonomy or special status in its text. Nor has it any reference like that for possible secession. There was no condition laid for special status or autonomy in instrument of accession by the Prince of J&K in the Instrument of Accession or the Maharaja or his Regent after accession.
But an entirely otherwise and wrong picture of Article 370 has been posted all these years. At this stage, it will be a too elaborated exercise to undo such myths at different levels. Hence, it would be better for India to look for ways and means for repeal or modification of Article 370 of Constitution of India and provide suitable place to constitutional matters pertaining to J&K along with other States in some appropriate part of Constitution of India.
-Daya Sagar, a senior columnist of Kashmir affairs and can be , contacted at [email protected]