What is Article 370 of the Constitution of India?

Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, a region located in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent which was administered by India as a state from 1954 to 31 October 2019, conferring it with the power to have a separate constitution, a state flag, and autonomy over the internal administration of the state. The Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir is part of the larger region of Kashmir which has been a subject of dispute since 1947 between India, Pakistan, and partly, China.

Article 370 was drafted in Part XXI of the Indian constitution titled “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions”. It stated that the Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir would be empowered to recommend the extent to which the Indian constitution would apply to the state. The state assembly could also abrogate Article 370 altogether, in which case all of the Indian Constitution would have applied to the state.

After the state constituent assembly was convened, it recommended the provisions of the Indian constitution that should apply to the state, based on which 1954 Presidential Order was issued. Since the state constituent assembly dissolved itself without recommending the abrogation of Article 370, the article was deemed to have become a permanent feature of the Indian Constitution.

Article-370The net effect was that the Jammu and Kashmir state’s residents live under a separate set of laws, including those related to citizenship, ownership of property, and fundamental rights, as compared to residents of other Indian states. As a result of this provision, Indian citizens from other states could not purchase land or property in Jammu & Kashmir.

On 5 August 2019, the Government of India issued a Presidential Order superseding the 1954 order and making all the provisions of the Indian constitution applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. The order was based on the resolution passed in both houses of India’s parliament with a two-thirds majority. Further order on 6 August made all the clauses of Article 370 except clause 1 to be inoperative.

Also, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 was passed by the parliament, enacting the division of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories to be called Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. The reorganization took place on 31 October 2019. The constitutionality of the revocation of special status has been challenged in the Supreme Court of India.

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