March 2016 News

J-K Constitution Unfair To Fair Sex

8 March 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Dinesh Manhotra

Jammu: Women of Jammu and Kashmir who are married to men from other states are facing the worst gender bias as their children are being deprived of basic fundamental rights due to Section 6 of the state's Constitution. This yardstick is not adopted for men who are married to women from other states. Children whose father is a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir but mother a non-permanent resident are entitled to all inheritance rights. Children whose mother is a permanent resident but father a non-permanent resident are denied the rights. Prabjit Kour, a native of the Kashmir valley, has challenged the validity of Section 6 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, which denies her children the right to a permanent resident certificate (PRC). Prabjit's children have no right to inherit or own property, get admission to professional colleges and get government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir even though they were born and brought up in the state. Their only fault is that their mother had married a person who is not a permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir. Prabjit's is not an isolated case. There are hundreds of women from Jammu and Kashmir married to non-permanent residents whose children are denied basic constitutional rights. 'This is glaring example of discrimination on the basis of gender. Article 14 of the Constitution of India mentions that there can be no discrimination on the basis of gender, but Section 6 of the J&K Constitution discriminates on the basis of gender between children of a male permanent resident and of a female permanent resident irrespective of the status of the spouse's domicile,' argues Neha Gupta, a native of J&K married to a non-permanent resident. Neha's husband teaches economics at Jammu University, but neither her husband nor children are entitled to PRC, which is required for getting voting rights in Assembly and local body elections, acquiring immovable property and seeking admission to professional colleges and government jobs. 'My husband and I will serve in the state for nearly 30 years, but after that we have to move out because our children will be deprived of basic rights,' she argues. 'Why is the same yardstick not adopted for men married to women from outside the state?' she asks. 'Denying basic rights to children of permanent resident women married to non-permanent residents is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. It is purely on the basis of gender that the constitutional right is denied to a citizen,' argues lawyer Sunil Sethi, who is fighting Prabhjit's case. He points out, 'The situation in certain cases is grave wherein a woman who is married to a non-permanent resident has to come back to the state with her children to reside permanently due to reasons like divorce or separation.' In such situations, though the woman continues to hold the status of permanent resident, the same does not apply to her children, says Sethi. This is a glaring example of injustice with children of permanent resident women of J&K who have married non-permanent residents, he asserts.