The Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India was signed by the Maharaja Hari Singh in October, 1947 and a special status was given to the State through the Article 370.
The wordings of Article 370 and its title “Temporary provisions with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir” are both significant as they imply that it was designed as a temporary or provisional arrangement. Thus, among the main aims of granting a special status were, (a) to ensure the Kashmiris that their distinct identity would be preserved and (b) to placate the Muslims of the Valley who were felling uncertain over their future.
According to many legal experts Article 370 is the umbilical cord only that links J&K to India. The Article essentially governs central-state relations pertaining to J&K Centre-State relations and issues of regional balance within States are similarly dealt with in the case of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal etc. In Article 371-A to I and schedules 5 and 6. Kashmir, in this sense, is not uniquely treated. Article 371-A relating to Nagaland provides that no Act of Parliament with regard to certain matters specified shall apply to Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of that state by resolution so decides.
Since the State of Travancore insisted that payments to its Devaswom Fund for the maintenance of certain Hindu temples must be continued as a condition for extension of the Indian Constitution to its domain, this was accepted incorporated in Article 290-A. The Constitution is replete with such ‘special provisions’.
When objections were raised in the Constituent Assembly regarding the inclusion of Article an assurance was given by the farmers of the Constitution that it would get eroded gradually. This happened to some extent during the premiership of Bakshi Ghulam Mohmmad, but it was not taken to its logical conclusion. So stating the Article as the root cause of all the trouble over J&K and in the fear of demand for a plebiscite, a promise made by Mr. Nehru in 1948 some political parties have been demanding abrogation of the Article. They also believe that this Article has encouraged the secessionist elements in other part of the country. The Bharatiya Janta Part made abrogation of this Article as one of its commitments in the election manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls also.
Article 370 servers as a reminder to the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country that it is yet to merge with the country. This impression creates uncertainty and ambiguity. It is also argued that the situation has become grave despite that the factor that the Article is very much a part of the Constitution and as a result, the state continues to enjoy the special status accorded to it when it acceded to India.
The fact is that Article 370 is the only legal window through which the Republic of India maintains its territorial link with J&K and extends it jurisdiction to the State. To scrap this special provision would mean reverting to the Instrument of Accession. Such reversion would merely offer an opportunity to the secessionists in Kashmir to demand a plebiscite and proved further ground to those seeking to internationalize the issue. After Kashmir’s accession, this state was permitted to enjoy two special rights – a separate Constitution and retention of Kashmir State subject laws, in vie the unusual historical circumstances leading to the accession.