Centre State Relations in context of Jammu and Kashmir

From Advocatespedia

1.Historical Aspect

The initiation of the relation between the Indian union and the state of Jammu and Kashmir can be traced from the event when India and Pakistan gained their independence on the 14th and 15th of august 1947, respectively. Where many of the Muslim majority areas in the Western and Eastern parts joined Pakistan but J&K was an exception and decided to stay neutral on the grounds and choose to remain independent. Thus, resulted in the creation of an agreement by Jammu & Kashmir with India and Pakistan stating that neither nation will try to invade the territory of J&K. While India respected the agreement and exercised restraint, Pakistan attacked Kashmir to annex it by force. on 02 October 1947, Kashmir was attacked by Azad Kashmir forces which included a thousand tribesmen armed which were supported by Pakistan and the Dogra army failed to stop the large trained tribal invaders army, On 25th October, in response to invasion Maharaja Hari Singh, at last, wrote a letter to Mountbatten, the governor-general of India.

2.Abrogation of Article 370 and its Legal Implications

The Bharatiya Janata Party has consistently included the abrogation of Article 370 in its election manifestos for the 2009, 2014, and 2019 General Elections. After securing victory in the 2019 elections, the BJP government acted swiftly to dissolve Article 370 through two Presidential Orders—CO 272 on August 5 and CO 273 on August 6, 2019. The first Order, issued on August 5, 2019, amended Article 367 to redefine the term 'Constituent Assembly' as 'Legislative Assembly' of the State, which, due to Jammu and Kashmir being under President's Rule, effectively meant the Union Parliament. This allowed the President to modify or repeal Article 370 upon request from the BJP-led Parliament. Following this amendment, both Houses of Parliament passed a Statutory Resolution recommending the dissolution of Article 370. On August 6, 2019, the President issued the second Order, declaring that Article 370 had ceased to operate, thereby integrating Jammu and Kashmir fully into the Union of India. This historic move marked a significant shift in the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir, aligning it administratively and politically with the rest of the country.

3.Application of Central Laws in Jammu and Kashmir

The Union home ministry on Monday extended the recently passed central laws by Parliament to Jammu and Kashmir and modified the existing state laws by substituting “state of J&K” with the “UT of J&K.” Earlier, the laws passed by Parliament were applicable in the state only after the state government gave its concurrence due to its special status and separate Constitution. However, things have changed after J&K’s special status was lifted and the state was divided into two UTs. As per section 96 of the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, the central government has the powers to make adaptations and modifications of the laws, whether by way of repeal or amendment for the application of any law made before the appointed date till the expiration of one year from the appointed date in relation to Union Territories. According to MHA, this is the second and third order issued under which 21 central and local laws have been modified and made applicable to Jammu and Kashmir. The first order for extension of central laws was announced in April this year in which 37 central laws passed by the Union cabinet were made applicable retrospectively from October 31, 2019. It may be recalled that the Centre had withdrawn Article 370 from J&K on August 5 last year. The appointed day of the two UTs was October 31, 2019.

4.Union Territories Status and Administrative Changes

Union Territories in India hold a unique administrative status, distinct from states, governed directly by the central government. The UTs serve as territories where special attention can be given to governance, particularly in regions with strategic importance or distinctive cultural identities. Over the years, there have been significant administrative changes aimed at enhancing local governance and development. The reorganization of UTs, such as the recent bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs , reflects efforts to streamline administration and address regional aspirations more effectively. These changes often involve redefining legislative powers, financial autonomy, and developmental priorities to ensure equitable growth and efficient governance across diverse geographical and demographic landscapes. As UTs continue to evolve, the focus remains on balancing centralized oversight with local empowerment, fostering development, and preserving cultural diversity. In addition to administrative reorganizations, Union Territories have witnessed policy shifts aimed at strengthening local institutions and promoting economic growth. The introduction of elected legislative assemblies in certain UTs, such as Delhi and Puducherry, marks a significant step towards decentralization and participatory governance. These assemblies empower local representatives to legislate on matters within their jurisdiction, thereby enhancing responsiveness to local needs. Moreover, initiatives like the creation of the National Capital Territory of Delhi and granting partial statehood aspirations in certain UTs exemplify ongoing efforts to balance central control with regional autonomy. Such developments underscore India's commitment to inclusive development and effective governance in its Union Territories.

5.Future Perspectives

The future perspective of center-state relations in Jammu and Kashmir is pivotal as the region adapts to its new status as a Union Territory. Following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019, Jammu and Kashmir underwent significant constitutional and administrative changes, including the bifurcation into two Union Territories: Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The central government's approach towards Jammu and Kashmir emphasizes integration with the rest of India, promoting economic development, enhancing security measures, and fostering democratic governance through grassroots institutions. The region's future will likely see continued efforts to empower local governance structures, ensure equitable development, and address long-standing socio-economic challenges. However, achieving sustainable peace, reconciliation, and inclusive development remains a complex task, requiring nuanced policies and constructive engagement with diverse stakeholders.