April 1999 News

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Farooq's Greater Autonomy Proposal for Kashmir

22 April 1999

Restore pre-1953 status in J&K, urges panel

By: Susheel Jalali

JAMMU, EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE, 16 April 1999: The State Autonomy Committee (SAC), constituted to suggest means for restoration of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, has virtually recommended reverting to pre-1953 status besides suggesting another pact about the legislative powers apportioned between the Union and the J&K.

Regarding the legislative relations between the State and the Union, it states that the ``matters in the Union List not connected with the three subjects of Defence, External Affairs and Communications, besides ancillary thereto, but made applicable, should be excluded from their application to the State''. Besides, some Articles of the Indian Constitution should be made non-applicable to the State as was the position in 1954.

Constituted by National Conference (NC) on November 29, 1996, immediately after assuming power in the State, the 184-page report of the SAC also made a reference to the misuse of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution from time-to-time. ``Forty years of unconstitutional practice has created amess,'' the report states, adding the best course is for President to repeal all orders, which are not in conformity with the Constitution (Application to J-K) Order, 1950, and the terms of the Delhi Agreement of 1952''.

``Ever since Article 370 (designed to protect the state's autonomy) has acquired a dangerously ambiguous aspect, it has been used systematically to destroy it,'' it points out.

The Committee also emphasised the need for a pact between the Union and the State which makes ample redress and finalises their relationship by declaring a ``Constitutional Understanding'' that Article 370 of the Constitution of India can no longer be used to apply to J-K and any other provisions of the Constitution of India beyond the ones extended under 1950 Order and the Delhi Agreement of 1952. This could be embodied in a new Article that specifies the agreement as part of the un amendable basic structure of the Indian Constitution''.

While suggesting ways for restoration of autonomy and also the safeguards for future, the committee points out that a suggestion has been made that Article 258 should be invoked for entrusting to the State ``functions in relation to any matter to which the executive power of the Union extends''. This would put a seal on the record of the past, it states, adding that ``functions'' so ``entrusted'' can always be recalled. The issue is not one of executive ``functions'', but legislative ``powers'' apportioned between the Union and the State under two solemn pacts between them -- The Instrument of Accession in 1947 and the Delhi Agreement of 1952 -- to which the President's Order of May 14, 1954 gave constitutional sanction besides, of course, Article 370 itself, it added.

The report has also recommended that the word ``temporary'' be omitted from the title of Part XXI of the Constitution of India and the same be replaced in the heading of Article 370 by ``special''.

With regard to emergency provisions, it states that ``provided that the request for concurrence of the Government of the State shall be subject to whatever decision the Assembly may take within two months of declaration of emergency and failing any such decision, the proclamation of emergency shall be deemed to have been revoked''.

Regarding finances, property contracts and suits, it recommends that the matter be discussed between the representatives of the State and the Union Government as per the Delhi Agreement.

About the State Constitution, the Committee suggested that the changes made vide Constitution of J-K (First Amendment) Act 1959, and Constitution of J-K (Sixth Amendment) Act, 1965, be repealed and its original provisions as adopted by the State Constituent Assembly on November 17, 1956, be restored.

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