What is Article 370 that India has scrapped?

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Home Minister and the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on Monday moved a resolution in Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of the Indian parliament, to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution that extends special status to the occupied Jammu and Kashmir region.

For the readers, the much-debated Article 370 is summarized below;

  • According to the Constitution of India, Article 370 provides temporary provisions to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, granting it special autonomy.
  • The article says that the provisions of Article 238, which was omitted from the constitution in 1956 when Indian states were reorganized, shall not apply to the occupied state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • In 1949, the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had directed Kashmiri leader Sheikh Abdullah to consult then Law Minister BR Ambedkar to prepare the draft of a suitable article to be included in the constitution.
  • Article 370 was eventually drafted by the then Railways Minister Gopalaswami Ayyangar
  • Ayyangar was a former Diwan (chief revenue officer, also used to refer to the chief ministers of the princely states) to Maharajah Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir
  • The original draft explained, “the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognized by the President as the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acting on the advice of the council of ministers for the time being in office under the Maharaja’s Proclamation dated the fifth day of March 1948.”
  • On November 15, 1952, it was changed to “the Government of the State means the person for the time being recognised by the President on the recommendation of the legislative assembly of the state as the Sadr-e-Riyasat (now Governor) of Jammu and Kashmir, acting on the advice of the Council of Ministers of the State for the time being in office.”
  • Under Article 370, the Indian Parliament cannot increase or reduce the borders of the state.