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Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir

Instrument of Accession (IoA), gave only limited powers to the Government of India. It was further compounded by the United Nations Security Council resolution on Kashmir. So, India gave a special status to the state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. This includes the state having a separate Constitution.

Jammu and Kashmir is the only Indian state to have a separate Constitution which was adopted in 1956, and came into effect on January 26, 1957. In fact, till 1965, the state had a “Sadr-e-Riyasat”, in place of a Governor, and a Prime Minister in place of the Chief Minister.

And unlike the Preamble of India, which starts with “We, the people of India”, the Preamble to the Constitution of J&K starts with, “We, the people of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Not just the Constitution, Jammu and Kashmir is also the only state which is permitted to have its own state flag. However, the flag cannot be hoisted alone. The Constitution of J&K makes it mandatory to hoist the state flag, alongside the Union flag of India, at all times.

Fundamental rights and duties of the people of J&K

The Directive Principles of the State Policy and fundamental duties of the constitution are not applicable to the state of J&K. And interestingly, Right to Property, which is denied as a fundamental right to rest of the India, is still guaranteed in the state. So Jammu and Kashmir is the only state which doesn’t need to give a detailed record of the money flowing in the state, and where it is used.

Even the basic Right to Education, has not been extended to the state.

While the state may enjoy a special status, it goes without saying that it is treated just like any of the other states.

As per Article 3 in part 2 of the J&K constitution, “Relationship of the State with the Union of India:-The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.”

Jammu and Kashmir Autonomy Resolution Rejected

The Jammu and Kashmir State Government, led by Dr. Farooq Abdullah of the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (JKNC), came to power in 1996 with a demand for “greater Autonomy” in J&K.

In November 1996, within a month after the resumption of power, Dr. Abdullah’s government constituted a State Autonomy Committee (SAC), headed by Dr. Karan Singh to prepare recommendations.

Dr. Karan Singh resigned from the SAC in July 1997, and thereafter the SAC had an “all JKNC membership”, and was headed by G. M. Shah, a State cabinet minister and a loyal confidant of Dr. Abdullah. The SAC submitted its report to Dr. Abdullah, who sent the report to the J&K Assembly on April 15, 1999 in the final moments before the adjournment of the Assembly session. There was no action on the report (by either the Chief Minister or the Legislature) until January 2000, when it was submitted (or resubmitted) formally to the J&K State Cabinet for endorsement. The SAC report was finally debated in the J&K Assembly in a special session that began on June 20, 2000 and ended with a controversial voice vote in favor of the report on June 26, 2000.

The SAC’s main recommendations revolved around the restoration of the pre-1953 status in the relationship between the federal government and the State. In effect, the SAC Report limits its endorsement to the following: the “Delhi Understanding” of May 1949 that formed the basis for Article 306-A (subsequently becoming Article 370) of the draft Indian Constitution, the Delhi Agreement of April 1952 that was used primarily to terminate monarchy in J&K, and specific decisions of the State Constituent assembly from October 1951 until August 1953, when Sheikh Abdullah, Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s father and predecessor to his post, was dismissed for undermining security and integrity of India.

In general terms, some of the recommendations of the SAC were that certain federal laws extended to the State should be removed, and in some cases the State Constitution should be revised to incorporate comparable features.

The point that many missed was that the federal laws in question were not mere imperialistic oddities, but the very essence of Indian plurality reflecting its steadily evolving political maturity from 1947.

They pertained to laws on fundamental rights, due process of law, elimination of rigged elections, affirmative actions and protection of minorities, and financial accountability and transparency in public expenditure.

Also, while the SAC Report welcomed a direct federal role in matters of defense, foreign affairs and communications, it demanded that the State have the final say on role of the Central government in J&K in case of external aggression, internal security or national emergency

The Indian Cabinet in a unanimous decision rejected the State assembly resolution. Stating correctly that “the SAC recommendations sought to reverse the application of constitutional provisions that would not only adversely affect the interests of the people of the State but would also tantamount to removal of some of the essential safeguards enshrined in the Indian Constitution.”

Furthermore, the Central government pointed out that the State had already moved past the 1953 position when Dr. Farooq Abdullah’s father negotiated a new Agreement with the Central government in 1975.

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