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SC validates choice of partners

SC validates choice of partners

For thousands of children– whose mothers married the 'men of their choice', it is like a mirage to become bonafide citizens of Jammu and Kashmir. After winning accolades for its verdict on Triple Talaq, the Supreme Court has yet another issue of 'gender inequality' on its hands – Article 35A, which is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature a carte blanche to decide the 'permanent residents' of the state and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships, and other public aid and welfare. Incidentally, while Triple Talaq is discriminatory against the Muslim daughters of India, Article 35A discriminates against the daughters of Jammu and Kashmir. It amounts to a violation of the right of women to 'marry a man of their choice' by not giving their heir any right to property if they marry men not holding the PRC (permanent resident certificate).

Like the Triple Talaq, this also does not have any legal or moral sanctity as when a male permanent resident of Jammu and Kashmir marries anywhere outside the state, including Pakistan, his wife and children received permanent residency, but if a daughter of the soil chose a life partner from any other state, her permanent residency was cancelled. Optimistically, in a case of 2002, i.e. Susheela Sawhney vs. state of Jammu and Kashmir, the High Court struck down this practice. However, the High Court decision was opposed by all the parties there and its implementation is yet to be rolled out in practice.

The political parties, instead, tried to adopt the legislative route to amend the definition of a permanent resident by introducing the Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill. As a result, the issue still remains to be resolved and the children out of this marriage are not deemed, permanent residents. As the last hope to get rid of gender discrimination, the 'affected' Kashmiri women had finally knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court. Like Triple Talaq finds no mention in Shariah or the Quran, this gender discrimination, too, is not a part of the State Subject Law of 1927 promulgated by the Maharaja or of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution. As the Supreme Court's verdict on Triple Talaq has set India free of terror, hate, and discrimination on religious grounds, its judgment on 35A may also take the Kashmiri girls out of barbaric rules, used selectively and arbitrarily by politicians safely nestled there.

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