ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Unpleasant Autonomy

Revisiting the Special Status for Jammu and Kashmir

A comparison with the constitutions of the United States and China reveals that Article 370 of the Indian Constitution – which recognises the special status for the state of Jammu and Kashmir – is neither against its federal character nor its unitary scheme. It is important to restore the “inviolability” of Article 370 – which has constantly eroded over time – so that the two constitutions, i e, Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and the Constitution of India can work harmoniously and within the principles of constitutionalism.

Many parts of the world continue to be battling with the question of their national existence even in today’s era characterised by the “human rights revolution”. These parts of the world – Kurdistan, Tibet, Jammu and Kashmir, etc – are distinct political entities, usually products of war or an empire. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, its distinct political identity was ­accepted and recognised within the ­Indian Constitution under the aegis of Article 370. The de facto usage of this provision has however been done in a manner that has eroded the autonomy guaranteed to the State, a condition which Patrick Hoeing et al (2010) describe as “a classic ­example of a careful calibration of ­power in centre-state relations existing on ­paper only”.

Consensus seems to be emerging, elsewhere, in the belief that these ­regions can work better in the fulfilment of their aspirations if they are given sufficient autonomy to deal with their own affairs (Choudhary 2007). It is therefore imperative to compare the present state of affairs in India with similar situations across the world where nations have not only recognised the distinct political identities of similar regions but have also given and respected their autonomy in order that they may function well within constitutional frameworks.

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