The “Jammu & Kashmir resettlement law” was challenged and the Supreme Court is soon to hear it.
What is the law about?
- It is the Jammu & Kashmir Grant of Permit for Resettlement in (or Permanent Return to) the State Act, 1982.
- It was passed by the Assembly to provide for regulation of procedure for grant of permit for resettlement.
- This is in terms of permanent residents and their descendants who had migrated to Pakistan between March 1, 1947 and May 14, 1954.
What was the objective?
- Mass killing of Muslims in Jammu in 1947 and its ramifications are the main reason why the law was introduced.
- As per historical references, more or less the entire Muslim population, amounting to half a million people, was displaced.
- Muslims were said to have been systematically exterminated unless they escaped to Pakistan along the border.
- It was done by the forces of the Dogra State headed by the Maharaja.
- The State Government thus passed the Bill under the terms of Section 6 of the J&K Constitution.
- This has a provision for those who were stuck in areas that became Pakistan in 1947.
- Under the provision, these people can return under a resettlement law enacted by the state legislature.
- The Indian Constitution’s Articles 5 and 7 too permit it.
- There is a provision that those who migrated to Pakistan can return under a law of the legislature.
What is the controversy?
- The Bill was introduced in March, 1980 by National Conference (NC) leader Abdul Rahim Rather and became law in October, 1982.
- It pitted the NC government against the then Congress government at the Centre.
- Both Houses of the state legislature passed the Bill in April 1982 but Governor B K Nehru returned it for reconsideration.
- Amid the Congress’s opposition, the Bill was again passed by both Houses, and this time the Governor gave assent.
- But then President Giani Zail Singh had already sent a presidential reference to the Supreme Court seeking its opinion on the law’s constitutional validity.
- The case remained pending for almost two decades until November, 2001.
- After this, a five-member Constitution Bench returned it unanswered.
- Later, Jammu-based Panthers Party challenged the law in the SC.
Why was it challenged?
- Panthers Party founder Bhim Singh, a lawyer, has represented the party challenge in the SC since 2002.
- He highlighted a security threat the state would face if the Bill is cleared.
- He noted that in Pakistan, it was mandatory for everybody to undergo two months’ military training before taking up any job.
- So through this law, Jammu would be inviting trained Pakistani soldiers.
- Apart from this, those people on return will reclaim property including agricultural land allotted to refugees from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
- This is more likely to lead to law and order problems in the State.