Interlocutors favour review of J&K statute provisions

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Ruling out a return to the pre-1953 position, the Centre’s interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir have favoured setting up a Constitutional Committee to review all Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India extended to the state after 1952.  The report of the interlocutors – Padgaonkar, Ms Radha Kumar and Mr MM Ansari  which was made public today, proposed a “New Compact” with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, having three components – political, economic and social and cultural – forming a single package that cannot be accepted on a selective basis.

Under the political component, the report deals with Centre-state relations and internal devolution of powers and suggests a road map listing confidence-building measures that includes review of the Disturbed Areas Act and re-appraisal of application of controversial AFSPA.

The report, which was handed to home minister Mr P Chidambaram on 12 October, 2011, also favoured resumption of dialogue between the Centre and Hurriyat Conference “at the earliest”. According to the interlocutors, this should yield visible outcomes and be made interruptible, it said. On Centre-state relation, the report calls for a review of all Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India extended to the state after the 1952 Delhi agreement.

“This does not mean a pure and simple return to the pre-1953 situation. The clock cannot be set back. Instead, the Group wants such a review to take into full account the changes that have taken place over the past six decades,” the report reads. To build on the consensus that exists in the state, the interlocutors have recommended that a Constitutional Committee (CC) be set up to review all Central acts and Articles of the Constitution of India extended to the state after the signing of 1952 agreement. According to the report, no more Central laws and Articles of the Constitution should be extended to the state by Presidential order.

It also suggested that Parliament make no laws applicable to the state unless it relates country’s internal and external security and its vital economic interests, especially in the areas of energy and access to water resources. Holding that a broad consensus exists on a political settlement in the state through a dialogue between all stake-holders including those who are not part of the mainstream, the three-member group has recommended that Jammu and Kashmir should function as a single entity.

The report has listed a number of options relating to the contentious Articles of the Constitution including the prefix to Article 370 extended to the state. It wants the state’s status to be termed as “special” as is the case with several states under Article 371, deletion of the word “temporary” from the heading of Article 370 and suggested it be replaced with the word “special”.

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