SC defers hearing on Article 35A till January 2019 (Lead)

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New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday deferred the hearing on a bunch of petitions challenging Article 35A of the Constitution, as the Central government urged the court to take up the matter after Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir.

The elections spread over eight phases will conclude in December.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud deferred the hearing till the second week of January as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told the court that it is a sensitive issue and may have a bearing on the Panchayat polls.

He said paramilitary forces are already in the state for the conduct of election.

"A large number of paramilitary forces have reached the state for ensuring security (during polls)," AG told the court pressing for adjournment of hearing.

Pointing to the sensitivity of the issue, the Attorney General informed the court that a strike is going on in the Kashmir valley on the issue.

Article 35A, inserted in the Constitution in 1954 by way of a Presidential order, bars outsiders from settling or buying immovable property in the state.

Chief Justice Misra in the last hearing of the matter on August 6 had said that "Article 35A is in vogue for the last 60 years and we will only see whether it is violative of the basic structure of the Constitution."

As AG Venugopal pressed for the adjournment of the hearing citing tense situation and the local body elections, a lawyer representing a petitioner wondered "how the election in J&K is relevant for the decision of this court".

CJI Misra asked senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the people residing in J&K for three generations for last six decades without any rights to education and employment, why they are knocking the doors of the court after such a long time.

"If a three-century-old practice in Sabrimala temple could be raised before the court, then why not after six decades?" Ranjit Kumar said.