New Delhi, August 5: The government on Monday abolished Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and moved a separate bill to bifurcate the state into two separate union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, amid massive opposition uproar in Rajya Sabha.
Home Minister Amit Shah moved a resolution in the House to abolish Article 370 after the President issued a notification in this regard and also moved the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019.
He said the UT in Ladakh will have no legislature like Chandigarh while the other UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Delhi and Puducherry.
The Home Minister’s announcement evoked strong protests from the opposition with leaders of Congress, TMC, DMK, AAP, NCP and Left raising slogans and storming the well of the House. They later squatted in the well and continued with their protest.
However, some regional parties like BSP, BJD, TRS and AIADMK extended full support to the resolution and the bill while NDA constituent JD(U) walked out.
Shah, who received a standing ovation from his party colleagues when he entered the House minutes before proceedings in the Rajya Sabha commenced, termed the move as “historical”, saying Article 370 has not allowed integration of Jammu and Kashmir with the country.
The Home Minister said Article 370 will no longer be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.
Shah informed the House that President Ram Nath Kovind has signed the official notification abrogating Article 370 and since the Jammu and Kashmir constituent assembly no longer exists and the state assembly stands dissolved, the powers of the assembly wrest with both Houses of Parliament.
“The President’s order can be discussed and passed by both houses of Parliament,” he told members.
A copy of the President’s order was also distributed in the House.
He also said that Article 370 can be abrogated through such an order, as there are provisions within the said Article to do so.
Reading out provisions of Article 370 (3), the Home Minister said there are provisions within that state that Article 370 shall cease to be operative or can be amended and the President has the right to issue such a notification or constitutional order.
“We are adopting the same path as adopted by the Congress in 1952 and 1962 by amending the provisions of Article 370 the same way through a notification,” Shah told the House, after Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) sought to know if the Constitution can be amended without a Constitutional amendment.
“There are no merits in the opposition stand and they are opposing it only to do politics and are creating ruckus inside the House,” he said.
Soon after Shah’s announcement, one of the PDP members tore his clothes and then along with another PDP member tore copies of the Constitution, prompting Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to order that they be physically removed.
When the House met, Naidu said he had used his discretionary powers to waive the requirement of the government to give advance notice and circulate a bill as the issue was of urgent national importance.
Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the entire Kashmir Valley is under curfew and three former chief ministers of the state and political leaders have been placed under house arrest.
He wanted the situation to be discussed first but Naidu allowed Shah to move the resolution.
Shah moved the resolution to abolish Article 370 as well as the state reorganisation bill along with listed bills to extend reservation for economically weaker sections in educational institutions and government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir.
The reorganisation bill provides for formation of union territory of Ladakh without legislature and a separate one for Jammu and Kashmir with legislature.
While Naidu said only the bill for providing reservation is being moved now and the other would be done after it is circulated to members, the House in a voice vote approved the introduction.
Later Naidu allowed Shah to re-introduce the resolution and the reorganisation bill, saying copies have now been circulated to members.
But it was not put to vote and it was not immediately clear if the voice vote taken earlier was for all bills and resolution or only for the bill for reservation.
Shah had moved the resolution and the bills together.
But the introduction was opposed by Congress, TMC and DMK members who along with leaders in the House rushed into the well.
They first shouted slogans and then squatted in the well of the House. Those who squatted on the floor included Azad, Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma and TMC leader Derek O’Brien.
Samajwadi Party (SP) members, however, did not join them in the well.
Amid the ruckus, PDP members Nazir Ahmad Laway and Mir Mohammad Fayaz shouted slogans and tore posters. Fayaz even tore the ‘kurta’ he was wearing. Later as the protests heated up, the duo tore copies of the Constitution, prompting Naidu to order their eviction.
“The Indian Constitution is supreme. Nobody can do it,” Naidu said as he named two members and ordered marshals to physically remove them from the House.
Before the marshals could do that, BJP leader Vijay Goel tried to intervene but was pushed back.
Naidu said the Indian Constitution is supreme and nobody has the right to tear copies of it.
“Tearing the Constitution in the House, shouting against India, will not be allowed. I will not just name (members) but also take action,” he said.
Azad said the opposition was not against the reservation bill but wanted the Kashmir situation to be discussed first.
While the Parliamentary Affairs Minister said the government was “rectifying” the historical blunder of imposing Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was enough empirical evidence and precedence where the governments have in past circulated and got approved bills on the same day.
Shah said the reservation bill will help provide economically weaker sections 10 per cent reservation in educational institutions and government jobs. This reservation will be besides existing reservation for SC, ST and OBC.
Noting that in past 38 times bills have been circulated and passed on the same day, he said this will be “null and void” after the resolution for abolition of Article 370 is approved.
Vaiko said the government was killing democracy. “Emergency days have come back,” he said.
“There is no emergency, only urgency,” Naidu remarked.
Azad said Article 370 was integral to Jammu and Kashmir joining India and added that lakhs of security personnel and civilians have lost their lives in the state during the last 70 years.
“I strongly condemn the act of two or three members of Parliament (to tear copies of Constitution), none were from our party. We stand by the Constitution of India,” he said.
He, however, said the BJP has murdered democracy.
Shah retorted that people of Jammu and Kashmir were living in poverty and corruption because of Article 370.
Three families have looted the state for years, he said noting that Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India on October 27, 1947 but Article 370 came in 1949.
“It is not true that Jammu and Kashmir joined India because of Article 370,” he said.
Article 370 was always temporary and past governments did not remove it because of lack of political will and vote bank politics, he said.
Shah in his resolution said, “…the President, on the recommendation of Parliament, is pleased to declare that, as from 5th of August, 2019, all clauses of the said article 370 shall cease to be operative except clause (1) thereof.” “All provisions of this Constitution, as amended from time to time, without any modifications or exceptions, shall apply to the State of Jammu and Kashmir,” it read.
Article 370 of the Constitution granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir whereby provisions of the Constitution which were applicable to other states were not applicable to J&K.
As per this article, except for defence, foreign affairs, finance and communications, Parliament needs the state government’s concurrence for applying all other laws.
It was introduced in the Constitution on October 17, 1949.