For Delhi Illegal route the only way to scrap Article 370, 35-A

Kashmir Magazine

Justice (Retd) Hasnain Masoodi, known for his landmark judgment on Article 370, is the National Conference candidate from Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency.

In Oct 2015, Justice Masoodi had ruled that Article 370, granting special status to the state, is permanent.

"Article 370 though titled as 'Temporary Provision' and included in Para XXI titled 'Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions' has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution," a division bench of justices Hasnain Masoodi and Janak Raj Kotwal had ruled.

"It is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation, in as much as Constituent Assembly of the State before its dissolution did not recommend its Amendment or repeal," the bench had added.

The 65-year-old former judge, who retired from the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in January 2016, was serving as the chairman of Selection-cum-Oversight Committee under the Juvenile Justice Act till the day National Conference nominated him as a party candidate for Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency in March this year.

He spoke to The Kashmir Magazine correspondent Waseem Ramzan on his current challenge as National Conference candidate against PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti , a former chief minister and state Congress president G A Mir, a former minister. He also offered brief explanations on Article 370, Article 35-A and the possibility of its scraping through legal and constitutional methods.

Below are the excerpts of his brief conversation with The Kashmir Magazine.

Q: You have been offered mandate for Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency before joining the party? Had you identified yourself with the National Conference ideology before the party announced you as the party nominee for parliamentary constituency?

Ans: Since I have been articulating my views on importance of Article 370 and Article 35-A for survival of Kashmiris and their identity, it is obvious that my views are closer to the ideology of National Conference. The top party leadership found it appropriate to name me as party candidate for Anantnag parliamentary constituency.

Q: What about the recent statements of top BJP leaders about scraping article 370 and article 35-A? What is the constitutional procedure for scraping Article 370 and Article 35-A?

Ans: The constitutional procedure had to be debated if the government or the parliament had the powers to scrap Article 370 and Article 35-A. let me make it very emphatically clear that neither the parliament nor the government of India and neither the Jammu and Kashmir government nor the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has the power and authority to scrap Article 370 or Article 35-A. A double bench judgment of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court clearly states that Article 370 is a permanent future of the constitution of India and the Article 370 as such can’t be scraped or modified or amended or changed in any way in any form. The judgment has assumed finality and the judgment can’t be questioned before any forum. Government of India will have to take illegal routes to scrap Article 370 or Article 35-A.

Q: You are pitted against former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. South Kashmir is a strong bastion of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). How would you face challenge from Mehbooba Mufti and her PDP?

Ans: Support base of PDP is fast disappearing because of its misrule, colossal violation of human rights and lethal assaults on political and financial autonomy of the state.

Q: Was GST implementation also an assault on financial autonomy of the state?

Ans: GST was deadliest bow to autonomy after presidential order of 1954 by virtue of which various provisions of Indian constitution were introduced in Jammu and Kashmir State. Dealing even with subjects other than defense, external affairs and communication shows that 1954 presidential order was used as a political instrument for eroding autonomy of the state. Extension of GST to Jammu and Kashmir was tantamount to denouncing fiscal autonomy at key dimension of political autonomy. Not only political parties but even the civil society in Kashmir was against the implementation of GST in Jammu and Kashmir. An alternative model like qubec model could have been implemented in Jammu and Kashmir. Qubec, one of the provinces of Canada didn’t accept the state reform undertaken by the central government of Canada but choose to have its own fiscal policy. Surrendering the power of taxation a key component of political sovereignty to the central government was the biggest blunder of Mehbooba Mufti government.

Q: What would be your role as member parliament on restoration of autonomy and protection of special status of the state?

Ans: I will strive hard in parliament for restoration of autonomy as promised in 1952 Delhi agreement and my priority would be to undo the amendment which changed the position of Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat in Jammu and Kashmir State.

Q: Congress party after entering into a pre-poll alliance with National Conference on two Jammu seats and one constituency in Kashmir valley claims that the committee headed late Divedas Thakur constituted under 1975 Indra-Abdullah agreement didn’t recommend revocation of central laws that were extended to state between 1953-1975. So how can the central laws be modified or amended when Congress is not your side?

Ans: This is just a misinterpretation of the recommendations of the committee constituted under the leadership of late Devidas Thakur by late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The committee headed by late Devidas Thakur had said that the central laws concerning welfare measures extended in between 1953 to 1975 were not to be revoked but the committee didn’t object to the amendments which have been extended to erode parts of State autonomy and fiscal autonomy. The amendments that extended the jurisdiction of NEET to Jammu and Kashmir need to be revoked.

Q: What about your prospects in your fight for Anantnag Parliamentary seat when you are facing challenge from PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and State Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir?

Ans: I finally believe that people of south Kashmir are deeply concerned about the atrocities heaped on them, brick by brick during PDP-BJP coalition rule under the leadership of Mehbooba Mufti. The erosion of autonomy and the rights violations paint the true colour of PDP and I have firm belief people would support me as a candidate keeping in view their deep concern for the measures taken during last two months and the plans apprehended to be implemented as means of assault on the autonomy. So people would stand with me and elect me as member parliament. I expect the people to be on positive side for safeguarding the constitutional position of the State. I would always raise my voice against HR violations and freedom of speech and expression with focus on freedom on press.