Article 370 of the Indian Constitution

Article 370 of the Constitution of India was revoked nearly two years ago, in August of 2019. It was a very controversial decision by the newly elected government and faced immediate backlash, interest and support from all over the nation and the world. People who had never even heard of the article were now being informed that it was being revoked, along with Article 51A. It is therefore essential to gain a better understanding of the article and what it contained.

What Does Article 370 Entail?

Article 370 gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, which is located in North India. The Jammu and Kashmir location is very well known for its scenic beauty and beautiful valleys. It is a popular spot for tourism. In addition to being a serene holiday destination, it was and is also situated at the border, and therefore there is a lot of border tension there throughout the year. It was earlier a princely state and later joined India as a state. After India and Pakistan were separated, there was a war over the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and both countries took control over different parts of the area. The part of Jammu and Kashmir in India also held special rights. It was given the power to have a separate constitution and had complete autonomy over all the internal administration and regulations of the state. It was named as a state in 1954 and also had a state flag. The article was drafted in Part XXI of the Constitution of India. The article was given the title of and covered Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions. This article empowered the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir to recommend up to what extent the Constitution of India would apply to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Incidentally, it was also possible for the assembly to completely recommend coming under the Indian Constitution, thereby repealing Article 370. However, this was not done, and therefore the state had separate rules from the rest of the country for decades.

The area of Jammu and Kashmir had a different situation prevalent than the rest of the country. The provision that the Indian Constitution would be applicable to Jammu and Kashmir was only a temporary provision till the formation of the state’s Constitution. However, the Constituent Assembly dissolved itself in 1957 without giving any recommendation about either abrogation or adoption of the article. Therefore, the article stayed in the Constitution of India. When the article was created, only two articles of the Constitution were applied fully to Jammu and Kashmir.

Later, the following acts passed by the Parliament of India were extended to Jammu and Kashmir gradually: the All India Services Act, the Negotiable Instruments Act, the Border Security Force Act, the Central Vigilance Commission Act, the Essential Commodities Act, the Haj Committee Act, the Income Tax Act, The Central Goods and Services Tax Act and The Integrated Goods and Services Act (2017), The Central Laws (Extension to Jammu and Kashmir) Acts of 1956 and 1968.

On August 5, 2019, the Union Home Minister of India proposed a bill for the abrogation of Article 370 and to end the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir. It was proposed that the state of Jammu and Kashmir be divided into two Union Territories, namely the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha that day itself and was passed by the Lok Sabha the next day. The bill was signed by the president, and it then became an act. The following are a few main things that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, as it was called, changed in the area.

  • Earlier, nobody from outside the state of Jammu and Kashmir could buy land or property inside the state. It could only be purchased by permanent residents of the state. After the abrogation of the article, outsiders can also buy land in Jammu and Kashmir if the land is not agricultural land.
  • Before 2019, women residents of Jammu and Kashmir did not have a right to buy property in the state if they married a non-local man. The husbands of the resident women were also not treated as residents and were not allowed to buy property as they were considered outsiders despite being married to a resident. The Reorganisation Act gave them the right to purchase property and land, as well as apply for government jobs even if they were not local.
  • It was decided that stone pelters and those who indulged in anti-national and subversive activities would not be issued passports.