Article 370, as it stands, assures Jammu & Kashmir a very special autonomous status in the Indian constitutional scheme. Owing to the special circumstances in which the former princely State was able to negotiate its accession to India, severe limitations were placed by the Constitution itself on the Centre’s powers vis-a-vis Jammu & Kashmir. However, over the years, a series of undemocratic measures and practices beginning with the 1954 Constitution Order eroded the rights and vital powers devolved by Article 370 on the State. The State Autonomy Commission Report and the resolution adopted by the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly in year 2000 represent a flamboyant attempt to reverse this situation, by pressing the demand that the State be returned to its pre-1953 constitutional status. The politics of the National Conference and Dr. Abdullah can justly be criticised for its opportunism, but there is absolutely nothing secessionist or extremist about it. Though it cannot be held that autonomy as demanded by the National Conference is the natural antidote to ‘extremist, secessionist and militant activities in the State’ but the re-institution and expansion of autonomy for the troubled State within the framework of Article 370 – on a freshly negotiated basis – is the democratic imperative.
It remains to be seen that whether the National Conference which has ruled the state for the maximum times, can live up to its promises and political slogans in times to come.