March 1, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

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NO FAIT ACCOMPLI: ON THE CHANGES PROPOSED IN THE LOK SABHA IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

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THE CONTEXT: Two important pieces of legislations regarding Jammu and Kashmir were passed by the lower house of Parliament recently. These are Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which aims to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, and the Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, which aims at amending the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. The two legislations are being viewed by opposition as an attempt by the Union government to tweak the political landscape to its advantage for electoral gains.

MORE ON THE NEWS:

  • It has been more than five and a half years since an elected government collapsed and Governor’s rule was imposed in Jammu & Kashmir amidst the suspension of the elected Assembly.
  • Subsequently, Article 370 that provided for special status for the erstwhile State was removed, the State bifurcated with the region encompassing Jammu and the Kashmir Valley made into a new Union Territory and Ladakh hived off into another.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023

  • It amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.  The Act provides for the reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir (with legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature).
  • Number of seats in the Legislative Assembly:  The first increases the total number of Assembly seats from 107 to 114, with reservation of nine seats for Scheduled Tribes. Earlier there were 37 seats in Jammu which have now become 43, earlier there were 46 seats in Kashmir which have now become 47. Apart from that, 24 seats have been kept reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
  • Nomination of Kashmiri migrants:The Bill adds that the Lieutenant Governor may nominate up to five members, of which two will be women, one a Kashmiri migrant and one from PoK.

Migrants are defined as persons who migrated from the Kashmir Valley or any other part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir after November 1, 1989, and are registered with the Relief Commissioner.  Migrants also include individuals who have not been registered due to:

  • being in government service in any moving office
  • having left for work
  • possessing immovable property at the place from where they migrated but are unable to reside there due to disturbed conditions.

Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023:

  • It amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004.  The Act provides for reservation in jobs and admission in professional institutions to members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other socially and educationally backward classes.
  • Under the Act, socially and educationally backward classes include:
  • people residing in villages declared as socially and educationally backward by the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir
  • people residing in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Control and International Border
  • weak and under-privileged classes (social castes), as notified
  • The government may make inclusions or exclusions from category of weak and under-privileged classes, on the recommendations of a Commission.
  • The Bill substitutes weak and under-privileged classes with other backward classes as declared by the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.   The definition of weak and under-privileged classes is deleted from the Act.

ARTICLE 370 AND ITS REVOCATION

  • Article 370 was a provision in the Indian Constitution that granted special autonomy and privileges to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It allowed the state to have its own constitution, flag, and autonomy over most matters except foreign affairs, defence, and communications.
  • This article was abrogated in 2019, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and integrating it fully into the Indian Union.
  • On 5th August 2019, President of India in the exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution had issued the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019. It repealed the special status previously accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Jammu and Kashmir now abide by all legislative amendments made by the parliament, including the Right to Information Act and the Right to Education Act.

CONCERNS

  • Pending SC verdict: The constitutionality of the changes under revocation of Article 370 is still under question and the Supreme Court has reserved its verdict on it. In this scenario, Union government has brought the Bills in a haste without waiting for the SC verdict on the matter.
  • Seats in legislative assembly: There is an increase in number of nominated seats, and it is being believed that these members will mainly be Kashmiri Pandits from the Valley. In this regard, concerns have been raised of tilting the balance away from a Muslim-majority Valley.
  • Violation of fundamental rights: It has been argued that in a federal democracy, the right to autonomous self-government is a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution. It cannot be taken away without the due procedure established by the law.
  • Delay in Restoration of Statehood:Another major concern is the delay in restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir. It has been four years since revocation of its special status since it was reorganized into Union Territories.  The government has not committed to a specific timeline for this restoration.

THE WAY FORWARD

  • Elections in J&K: Elections is J&K should not be delayed further. There should be immediate restoration of the democratic process by holding popular elections. Elections should be held at the earliest and Election Commission of India and the State’s Election Commission will have to take a call soon to conduct elections. Also, local citizens need to be empowered through political platforms.
  • Restoration of Statehood: It is time for the restoration of popular government as well as Statehood in J&K. It is imperative for the government to act with urgency in facilitating the reinstatement of J&K’s statehood. The absence of statehood limits the region’s capacity to have a say in its own governance, hindering its ability to address its unique concerns and aspirations.
  • Strengthening Security and Peace: There is a need for strict measure to ensure security by countering insurgency to bring stability for development. It can also be done by strengthening local law enforcement and developing connectivity for trade and tourism. This would help not just to fill a glaring void in public life in the region but also set the stage for addressing the long-pending issues that have led to the persistence of militancy.
  • Restoring Normalcy and Trust: There is a need for restoring normalcy and trust by fostering dialogue between local leaders and parliamentarians. At the same time, there should be focus on economic growth via infrastructure, tourism and special economic zones among others.

THE CONCLUSION:

There is a need for multi-faceted approach for a successful transition from UT to statehood for ensuring economic growth and inclusive governance in the region. At the same time, cultural preservation, and effective diplomacy needs to be ensured for upholding the integrity and security of the region.

PREVIOUS YEAR QUESTIONS

Q.1 To what extent is Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, bearing marginal note “Temporary provision with respect to the State of Jammu and Kashmir”, temporary? Discuss The future prospects of this provision in the context of Indian polity. (2016)

Q.2 The banning of ‘Jamaat-e-islaami’ in Jammu and Kashmir brought into focus the role of over-ground workers (OGWs) in assisting terrorist organizations. Examine the role played by OGWs in assisting terrorist organizations in insurgency affected areas. Discuss measures to neutralize the influence of OGWs. (2019)

MAINS PRACTICE QUESTION

Q.1 In a significant legislative move, the Lok Sabha passed two new bills amending key laws in Jammu and Kashmir which has raised concerns. Discuss the challenges arising from this situation and suggest potential initiatives that can be pursued to ensure lasting peace and stability in the region?

SOURCE: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/no-fait-accompli-the-hindu-editorial-on-the-changes-proposed-in-the-lok-sabha-in-jammu-and-kashmir/article67615639.ece#:~:text=No%20fait%20accompli%3A%20The%20Hindu,Jammu%20and%20Kashmir%20%2D%20The%20Hindu

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