Unveiling the Pages of History through AG Noorani’s Constitutional Book

Unveiling the Pages of History through AG Noorani’s Constitutional Book

Unveiling the Pages of History through AG Noorani’s Constitutional Book



History is the systematic study and documentation of the human past. It deals with the actions and behaviour of humans as well as the associated and ancillary events. An essential distinction has to be drawn between what history and historiography entails. While history encompasses the substantive aspect of the past extending to such occurrences, historiography in simple terms is written history. Strictly adhering to this definition, even historical books can fall under the purview of historiography. In this article, I am going to review one such book which chronologically elucidates the history of Article 370 in Kashmir which is ‘Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir’ written by AG Noorani [2011].



In his meticulously researched book, AG Noorani navigates the complexities and controversies of Article 370's development in Kashmir. With a narrative approach, he clarifies this misunderstood subject, starting from pre-independence debates and tracing its historical evolution as a temporary provision. Spanning around sixty years from pre-independence to 2011, this book explores the context during India's partition in 1947 and extends beyond Article 370 to ancillary matters like Kashmir's integration and constitutional amendments. Referencing the Government of India Act, 1935, Noorani offers a thorough account of Article 370's evolution. Despite minor flaws, the book presents a comprehensive analysis of this contentious aspect in India's Constitutional history, featuring accurate references and detailed discussions.



The book’s thesis underscores an intricate interplay between history, law and politics in the formulation and evolution of Article 370, a provision which grants special autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Although the book is a neutral narrative because the author does not explicitly take his stance, there are instances wherein his argument and perspective can be reasonably inferred. The book's discussions on the Delhi Agreement and other developments imply the author's support for Article 370, as he criticizes unnecessary changes that jeopardize its continuity and foundation. Therefore, the thesis can be summarised as one describing the historical, legal and political dimensions of Article 370 which is a balanced and historically contextualized provision which played a unique role in granting autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, with the author’s main argument being subtly in favour of its retention.



This book has its merits as well as drawbacks but the positive aspects definitely outweigh the demerits. The biggest takeaway is the brilliant portrayal of Article 370 as a provision and its complete analysis in a purely historical context. AG Noorani is a distinguished Constitutional Law expert and a commentator and his detailed analysis is reflective of this fact. The various negotiations between the leaders have been meticulously reconstructed which give a better understanding of the events of that time. The texts of various methods of correspondence such as letters, speeches given and so on enhance the overall reading experience by making the book comprehensive and is reflective of the fact that this book is one that has been very well-researched.

One of the strengths of this book is that it presents a very balanced perspective of the happenings of the past without the author being biased towards one side. It is a purely historical work in the form of a narrative and so, it can be classified as an informative book rather than one which involves unnecessary biases and propaganda. Noorani has explored the view points of most of the stakeholders, thus bringing in various perspectives of the controversial issue.

Noorani’s writing is both scholarly and accessible as he has simplified difficult legal and political concepts and occurrences into a simplified analysis which even common people can understand. He has also explored the social angle in the form of the reactions of people to the events and this adds to the credibility of the book. It is also rich in content because it includes excerpts of the amendment orders as well as the originally drafted Constitution of the state along with other ancillary documents essential to understand the context and situation of that time.

The author’s aims have been achieved because a detailed analysis has successfully been given with relevant evidence to back all the claims. The book is very well-organised too because it chronologically states the occurrences. The neutrality of the book is reflected by the presence of minimal assumptions because the book mainly consists of factual data. However, the author assumes that the reader knows the basics of article 370 and Constitutional Law because he directly delves with the intricacies of the dispute without giving the basic background. Although being concise is a good thing, this makes it difficult to comprehend.

The author’s narrative is accurate and fair and is without biases. The fact that he has not used any economic or philosophical lens further helps in maintaining this neutrality. All these parameters make this book worth-reading and one which is difficult to put-down. Before reading a historical book, one of the basic expectations is to acquire a lot of knowledge related to the subject-matter and this book completely matches this expectation. It will keep you engaged because the texts of various discussions and the incorporation of various letters transports you back to the times during which these negotiations were made, thus giving an impression of a real-life feeling rather than just a monotonous reading of four hundred pages.

One of the major drawbacks of this book is its relevance today. Published in 2011, it does not include the 2019 amendment which abolished Section 370 altogether. The extensive legal analysis and references are overwhelming and may not be totally understood by the readers. The absence of an understandable introduction further adds to this problem. The book focuses only on Section 370 whereas there are other very important aspects in the history of Kashmir such as the numerous armed conflicts. The lack of personal opinion as well as the absence of credibility in the international context also leads to its downfall.


This book is a vital contribution to Indian constitutional law and the intricate history of Jammu and Kashmir. Noorani's adept research and accessible presentation makes it indispensable for academicians, policymakers, and those seeking a comprehensive grasp of Article 370's origins and effects. Although published earlier, it remains essential for understanding the region's Constitutional evolution and its implications for India. Despite the 2019 amendment seemingly settling the matter, future developments will be worth observing

Share this articles : Whatsapp Facebook Twitter Linkedin