daughters of Kashmir ultimately get justice…. Not to lose State subjects
on marrying outside J&K
Historic landmark Full Bench HC
in J&K Women’s State Subject Case
Shabir Shah’s JKDFP, Kashmir Bar Association
however opposes the landmark judgement
Life for Tsering Angmo Shano was full of promises. This small
town girl from tribal region of Leh (Ladakh) was quite popular in the area
and was involved in all major social and political activities. And then
she fell in love with Major Didhwal who hailed from Utter Pradesh. Life
was a fairy tale come true. Everything was so good until their relationship
turned sour and Angmo had to return to her native Ladakh- with her three
young children after getting a divorce from her husband.
Today Angmo, the station director of All India Radio, Leh who had inspired
an entire generation of Ladakhi women, but seemed to have lost her own
battle for the restoration of her basic right of citizenship, has every
reason to be happy as in a landmark judgment of far-reaching public importance
concerning women-folk of Jammu and Kashmir, the Full Bench of the State
High Court, with a majority view, recently held that a daughter of
a permanent resident of J&K, on marrying a non-permanent resident,
would not loose the status of permanent residence of the state.. Though
its too late for her, but she is relieved as she believes this landmark judgment would help hundreds and thousands of girls from Jammu and Kashmir.
An archaic law sanctified by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution called
as “State Subject Law” which deprived a woman citizen of the state of her
basic citizenship rights in case she married a non-state subject, which
came Angmo’s way, and was challenged by many women of the state, has finally
Angmo is one among the hundreds of women of this strategically
important state who had been deprived of the basic right of citizenship
by denying them the mandatory State Subject Certificate
(SSC).Women who married a non state subject were barred from owing
property or seeking admission to professional courses and employment.
The State Subject certificate deprived a women citizen of the undivided
Jammu and Kashmir state, of her basic citizenship rights in case she married
a non-state subject. Most of the women have suffered due to this draconian
law. Some had to quite the jobs, some had to drop the idea of serving in
the parental state, some were awaiting justice for years until last month
when the full bench of the state High Court where this case was pending
for the past 14 years, ultimately delivered a landmark judgment saying
"a daughter of a permanent resident, marrying a non-permanent resident,
will not loose the status of a permanent resident of the state of Jammu
The importance of this vital issue can well be judged from the fact
that this judgment itself is based on 94 pages.
By this landmark judgment, the fate of 12 petitions pending in the Court,
was also decided, wherein the State Subject/ Government jobs of married
women of the State, have been treated to be canceled in view of their getting
married with a person not belonging to the State of J&K.
The law was first challenged in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court by
Dr Rubina Malhotra, grand-daughter of the former Prime Minister of Jammu
and Kashmir Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed and daughter-in-law of former Punjab
Governor Surinder Nath Malhotra(who died in an air crash). Rubina took
up the cudgels on behalf of Kashmiri women when she was debarred from joining
post-graduation in medicine on the grounds that she had married an “outsider”.
She moved heaven and earth in the early 80’s for this but all her efforts
failed. Her fault was that she too, like Angmo Shano, had married Ranjeet
Malhotra, a non-state subject. Convinced that the rulers in Srinagar will
not scrap anti-women State-Subject laws on their own, Rubina ultimately
challenged their constitutional validity in the J&K High Court.
Amarjeet Kaur of Baramullah in Kashmir had also filed a similar case
when her relatives tried to deprive her of ancestral property since she
had married a Punjabi. Her petition, like several other similar cases,
including that of Rubina Malhotra , remained pending in the high court
for over 14 years.
However, after a long wait, the women of the state are quite happy,as
the gender-discrimination has been removed. However the separatist leader
Shabir Shah and Kashmir Bar Association which is not happy with the judgement,
are planning to challenge it in the court.
Dr Girija Dhar ,chairperson, State Commission for Women (SCW) feels
that this was a long awaited historical judgment which has removed disparity
and discrimination to a great extent. Infact, the Commission had made recommendations
in this regard many times and had also tried to bring several women pressure
groups on a single platform.
Even on International Women's day on 8 March this year, SCW submitted
a memorandum to the then chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah when the women
of the state had formed a human chain to assert their rights. ''It is good
that the disparity has finally been removed. Paradoxically it was not only
bias between two genders but with in the gender itself. A woman who comes
from outside, is entitled to all the benefits after being married to a
permanent resident but the one who has been born and brought up here in
J&K , used to lose her rights. My perception is that the same law should
be there for all the citizens and this judgment has restored the parity,''
adds Dr Dhar.
Dr Nirmal Kamal, professor in Economics department of Jammu University
and noted social activist, who champions the cause of their empowerment
and had highlighted the issue many times feels elated that the daughters
of the state have ultimately got justice. She feels that it was quite humiliating
that women of the state were bound to renew their state-subject certificate
as testimony to their being married to a state subject only. The “Permanent
Resident Certificate” (PRC) of a woman citizen was valid only till marriage-
after that she needed to acquire a fresh certificate. Each resident of
J&K is supposed to possess the PRC, a mandatory document for acquiring
property or getting jobs in the government.
“I want to ask the people like Shabir Shah or the Kashmir Bar Association
who have been opposing the judgment that why there was no such bindings
on the male state subject?” Argues Professor Kamal. “Dr Abdullah has married
a British national, his son Omar has a Sikh wife from Punjab, Dr Karan
Singh’s wife Yasho Raje Lakshmi is from Nepal, so are his two daughters
in laws. Vikramaditya is married to Madhao Rao Scindia’s daughter and younger
Ajatshatru has married a Delhi girl. All of them have acquired state-subjects
automatically as their husbands are state subjects,” She further adds that
“Valid Till Marriage” was a derogatory inscription on the state subject
The recent landmark 94-page judgment which says that the concept of
domicile has nothing to do with the concept of citizenship and the concept
of state subject has favoured daughters of Kashmir fully stating : “Domicile
has something to do with the residents but residents and citizenship are
not synonymous. State subject status is nearer the concept of citizenship
and one can loose this status in the same manner as in the case of citizenship.”
It further reads that wife or widow so long as she resides in the state
and does not leave the state for a permanent residence outside the state
would continue to enjoy the status of state subject.
“The daughter of a permanent resident of the state of Jammu and Kashmir
will not loose status as a permanent resident of the state of Jammu and
Kashmir on her marriage with a person who is not a permanent resident of
the state of Jammu and Kashmir”, the full bench. With this, the fate of
12 petitions wherein the state subject/Govt. jobs of married woman of a
state subject have been treated to be canceled in view of their getting
married outside the state of J&K.
Seema Shekhar Khajuria, leading advocate of J&K High Court and a
member of both State Social Welfare Board and Consultative Committee of
State Commission for Women describes the judgment as a gigantic step undoing
'Though there was no law or provision in J&K constitution or anywhere
depriving a permanent resident of his/her this status after marriage. But
over the years such position had emerged that the daughter of the soil
was stripped of all her rights. She could not vote, contest, acquire family
property, get government job, retain government job or seek admission in
educational institutions once she married to a person from outside the
state. It was virtually like a civil death for her. Ironically as per regulations
a male permanent resident, even if he immigrates to a foreign territory,
would be considered as a permanent resident as per part-I of notification
June 27, 1932 and his descendants born abroad will be considered state
subjects for two generations. Here lies the discrimination which has finally
been undone with this judgment wherein the rights of female descendants
of a permanent resident of the state have been kept intact. And now, the
daughters of the soil marrying outside the state will not lose their status
of permanent resident,'' she states adding the judgment will certainly
have wide repercussions as far as women empowerment is concerned.
Echoing the similar sentiments a renowned educationist and social worker
Prof Rita Jitendra asserts that finally the ice has been broken with the
restoration of a separate individual status to the women upgrading them
from mere appendages of men as wives and daughters by the judiciary.
''Any sane person, who believes in the concept of human rights, can
not oppose the women rights. It is welcome that the women have finally
got what have been deprived to them for years. This discriminatory clause
had clogged the future of the women. Now they will have a wider choice
to decide their future.
Nari Jagran Manch, a organization which was also fighting for the rights
of women who get married outside the state, comes down heavily on JKDFP
and Kashmir Bar Association for planning to challenge the landmark judgement.
The Manch Convenor Mrs Sneh Bali believes that it is the chauvinistic
attitude of these petty people who are feeling uncomfortable by this
judgement. “Many clergy men from outside J&K have been settled in Kashmir
and provided the fake state subjects while the basic citizens (women) are
deprived of their rights. Have they every spoken about such fake persons
who have settled in Kashmir and are hand in gloves with militants?” Asks
Bali who has the full support of organizations like Vishva Hindu Parishad
and BJP on the issue.
Though the mainstream political parties are too conscious over the issue
and have not reacted to the judgment, the fact remains that the Law certainly
gave a gender colouring to the Article itself favouring men only.
|THE HISTORY OF DRACONIAN STATE SUBJECT LAWS
The concept of the State Subjectship devised by the Dogra rulers has
its provisions enumerated in Part III of the J&K Constitution enforced
on 26 January 1957. It is based on the State notification No I-L/84 or
the State Subject Laws (SSLs) promulgated by Maharaja Hari Singh on 20
April 1927 to appease those advocating the “son of the soil” theory and
debar the “ non-state subjects” from acquiring any immovable property in
the J&K territories or getting jobs in the state government. Since
them, the state subjectship, however, remained all along a matter
of vital importance to the people living in the state, The leadership at
the highest level in the country preserved sufficiently this inalienable
right by making adequate provisions in the Constitution of India and that
of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.