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Indian Express

22- December-2023

1. A Valley of growth

Topic: GS2 – Polity- Federalism
This topic is not much relevant in the context of Prelims but more for Mains in the context of constitutional, legal, and economic aspects of the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Jammu and Kashmir.
Context:
  • The Supreme Court has made it clear that Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) does not have any sort of sovereignty.
  • It has emphasised that Article 370 was only meant to be a temporary measure, and its repeal signified the end of the integration process.
  • This legal certainty puts an end to a protracted period of economic uncertainty in the area and resolves a constitutional dispute.
Economic Insularity and Roadblocks:
  • The article emphasises how the prior uncertainty surrounding J&K’s status led to economic barriers that prevented private money and expertise from entering the area.
  • Stunted economic development resulted from the state’s over-reliance on public investment combined with a low ability to absorb investments.
  • The fact that J&K’s per capita income in 2019 was less than half that of Himachal Pradesh, a neighbouring state, speaks of the region’s economic struggles.
Post-2019 Economic Transformations:
  • The article makes the case that the August 2019 adjustments were both constitutional and intended to reset the economic structure that was impeding the region’s capacity for natural growth.
  • Significant progress was made during the next four years, with the removal of terror infrastructure, a decrease in disturbance, a rise in tourism, and the reopening of cinemas in the Kashmir Valley.
Infrastructure Development and Social Progress:
  • Massive infrastructure upgrades have been made as a result of the government’s deliberate efforts; projects like the Zojila tunnel and the rail link to Kashmir are now under construction.
  • Because of the notable improvements in law and order, the area is now better able to concentrate on long-term objectives including prosperity, high employment, and sustainable growth.
  • In order to capitalise on significant investments in housing, commercial space, urban transportation, and urban spaces, the article highlights the necessity of futuristic planning.
Challenges and the Way Forward:
  • Notwithstanding the improvements, the article notes difficulties, particularly with regard to land acquisition—a contentious topic in the area.
  • It demands that all traces of previous obstructionism be eliminated in order to promote private investment and expansion.
  • Given the enduring interest of surrounding countries, maintaining peace and order is still of utmost importance.
Building an Ecosystem for Growth:
  • The article lists the fundamental components of an ecosystem:
    • a thriving land market,
    • open regulatory frameworks,
    • a superior governance ecosystems,
    • stable law and order
These are required to establish a high-growth economy. To draw in capital, technology, talent, and people, a shift from protectionism to openness is considered necessary. Conclusion:
  • The August 2019 amendments are presented as a pledge to increase economic prospects in Jammu and Kashmir in addition to serving as a reset of the constitution.
  • The article predicts significant growth and job opportunities in the region despite the legal issues that remain.
What is the Recent Judgement of the Supreme Court?
Jammu and Kashmir did not Possess Sovereignty:
  • SC observed that there is much evidence in Article 370 and the J&K Constitution to show that in regards to Kashmir, a merger agreement was not necessary to surrender its sovereignty.
  • Article 370(1) applied Article 1 of the Constitution of India (where J&K was listed as a Part III State) with no modifications.
  • Section 3 of the J&K Constitution explicitly states that “the State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.”
  • Section 147 of the Indian constitution prohibited any amendments to Section 3, further making the provision absolute.
  • Thus, Court said that the Constitution of India, “became the supreme governing document of the land.” Further, the Preamble to the J&K Constitution shows a “clear absence of…a reference to sovereignty.”
Article 370 is a Temporary Provision:
  • The SC relied on the fact that the Constitution framers placed Article 370 with the temporary and transitional provisions contained in Part XXI.
  • Then, it pointed out that the Instrument of Accession (IoA) made it “abundantly clear” that Article 1 which stated that “India that is Bharat shall be a Union of States” applied in its entirety to J&K.
Constitutional Validity of Proclamations Under President’s Rule:
  • SC’s Bench concurred that the President has the power to make “irreversible changes, including the dissolution of the State Assembly,” and that the President’s powers are kept in check by “judicial and constitutional scrutiny.”
The Constitution of J&K Stands Inoperative:
  • Court held that it is no longer necessary for the Constitution of J&K through which only certain provisions of the Indian Constitution applied to J&K, to exist.
  • The implicit but necessary consequence of the application of the Constitution of India in its entirety to the State of Jammu and Kashmir is that the Constitution of the State is inoperative.
Set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to Address Human Rights:
  • The SC recommended that the Union set up a “truth and reconciliation Commission” just like South Africa did post-apartheid to investigate human rights violations by both state and non-state actors. The exercise should be time-bound.
PYQ: To what extent is Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bearing marginal note “Temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir”, temporary? Discuss The future prospects of this provision in the context of Indian polity. (UPSC CSE (M) GS-2 2016) (150 words/10 m)
Practice Question: Examine the implications of the Supreme Court’s recent unequivocal ruling on the status of J&K, emphasizing the abrogation of Article 370 as a culmination of the integration process. (150 words/10 m)

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