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Article 370 of the Constitution of India: An Introduction

In the wake of the Narendra Modi government decision to revoke the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which grants special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir, it is important for law students to know all about Article 370.

What is Article 370?

Article 370 of the Indian Constitution is a ‘temporary provision’ that grants special autonomous status to the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Under Part XXI of the Constitution of India, which deals with “Temporary, Transitional and Special provisions”, the state of Jammu & Kashmir has been accorded special status under Article 370. As per this Article, all the provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K. For example, till 1965, J&K had a Sadr-e-Riyasat for governor and prime minister in place of chief minister.

History of Article 370

The provision of the Article was drafted in 1947 by Sheikh Abdullah, who had by then been appointed prime minister of Jammu & Kashmir by Maharaja Hari Singh and Jawahar Lal Nehru. Sheikh Abdullah had argued that Article 370 should not be placed under temporary provisions of the Constitution. He wanted ‘iron clad autonomy’ for the state, which Centre did not comply with.

Provisions of Article 370

According to this Article, except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications, Parliament needs the State Government’s concurrence for applying all other laws. Thus the state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to other Indians. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states cannot purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir. Under Article 370, the Centre has no power to declare financial emergency under Article 360 in the state. It can declare an emergency in the state only in case of war or external aggression. The Union government can therefore not declare emergency on grounds of internal disturbance or imminent danger unless it is made at the request or with the concurrence of the state government.

What lies ahead after  removal of A. 370

Legal experts point out that removing Article 370 will bring about positive impact on the current legal system. According to Kumar Mihir, Advocate on Record in Supreme Court, “There were  practical problems in removing Article 370 as there are a number of presidential orders issued under Article 370”. Keeping all the possible legal barriers the  provisions in the existing laws will require amendment as they are now applicable to State of J & K at par with  other states of India. The Indian Parliament has once again kept the supreme law of land our Constitution above all religion,  race,  caste,  sex and religion and the dream of secular and United India has been revived again.

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