Peoples Democratic Party legislator Nizam-ud-din Bhat, who has been accused of introducing a constitutional amendment bill with glimpses of secessionist ideas, has denied the allegation, and said that Jammu and Kashmir legislators must be free to propose amendments for the benefit of the people of the state.
Bhat said people leveling accusations against him have not read his draft bill. He said he has sought an amendment to Article 147 of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution, which debars legislators from amending Sections 3 and 5.
"The thought came to me that I should propose in a bill that should redefine the powers (of legislators) and status (of Jammu and Kashmir); the possibility of an amendment must exist," said Bhat.
"So, I suggested, that those clauses of Section 147 (of the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution) which state that Sections 3 and 5 cannot be amended, should be substituted so that we have the freedom of proposing a relevant amendment to the assembly. After that, any further action is the assembly's call," he added.
Bhat said that he was only asking for lawmakers to be given the constitutional space to legislate freely. He said that merely proposing a bill did not mean it had been passed, as the state assembly would need to debate the bill, and only after that, a two-thirds majority would be needed to pass the bill.
He further said that his bill questioned the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India.
"I moved the bill in good faith as a legislator. I conceived an idea. I went through the Constitution. I saw section 147, and in that section, I saw that I cannot move a bill regarding change or amendment in section 3 and 5. I read section 3 and 5. Section 3 determines the status of state with the Union of India, and Section 5 determines my legislative and executive powers, of the legislature," said Bhat.
"I thought, why a ban on this? Why will a procedure restrict me if I ever think of changing these two articles?" he added.
Bhat said that he did not propose the bill on being influenced by anyone, and that he sought to protect the interest of the people of Jammu and Kashmir.