LS debates J&K Reorganisation, Reservation Amendment Bills

Jammu, Dec 5: Union Home Minister Amit Shah will reply to the extensive debate, which began Tuesday evening on “The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023” and “The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023” in the Lok Sabha, tomorrow.

Earlier these two crucial Bills, which are aimed at expanding and restructuring J&K reservation laws and representation in its Legislative Assembly, were moved by the Union Home Minister in the Lower House for consideration and passage this afternoon.

   

On the anticipated lines, the ruling combine members stoutly defended the amendment Bills describing them as a step to correct the “historical” and “political wrongs” and align J&K constitutionally with the rest of the country.

The opposition members used the opportunity to pin down the central government (read BJP) by accusing it of acting against the spirit of constitution by bringing these Bills, which were directly related to special status of J&K, presently under judicial scrutiny. The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its judgment on Article 370 abrogation this month.

They also put the Centre in the dock for not holding assembly elections in J&K despite its commitment on the floor of the Parliament. From unemployment to the security situation and power outages were the issues which were used by the members to target the central government during discussion.

Besides National Conference MPs Dr Farooq Abdullah and Justice (retired) Hasnain Masoodi, who both launched a blistering attack on the ruling dispensation for delaying assembly elections in J&K and failing to fulfil its promise; other members of I.N.D.I.A alliance, particularly Congress, TMC and NCP were quite vociferous in their criticism.

The debate would be resumed tomorrow also in the Lower House. Shah is likely to reply after 2 pm to wrap up the discussion.
Both these bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 26 this year during the Monsoon session yet could not be taken up for consideration and passage.

REPRESENTATION TO KASHMIRI MIGRANTS, DPS FROM POJK, SC & STS IN J&K LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

“The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023” proposes amendment in the “The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019)” to provide representation to “Kashmiri Migrants”, “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir so as to preserve their political rights as well as for
their overall social and economic development.

It provides to insert new sections 15A and 15B in the Act so as to “nominate not more than two members, one of whom shall be a woman, from the community of “Kashmiri migrants” and one Member from “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir”, to the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir; and (ii) amendments to sub-sections (3) and (10) of section 14 of the Act which are of consequential in view of completion of delimitation process in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

On completion of the delimitation process, the Delimitation Commission had published orders with regard to the delimitation of the Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

As per these orders, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir 4 has been increased from 107 to 114 with reservation of nine seats for Scheduled Tribes for the first time.

This explained the requirement of consequential amendments in sub-sections (3) and (10) of section 14 of the Act.

The statement of Objects and Reasons explained that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019) (the Act) was enacted with a view to provide for the reorganisation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

“The Delimitation Commission, while undertaking the delimitation process of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, received many representations from the “Kashmiri Migrants” and also “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” regarding reservation of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to preserve their political rights and identity. The Delimitation Commission, after considering the matter in depth, recommended for representation of communities of “Kashmiri Migrants” and “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” in the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir by way of nomination,” the statement mentioned.

“As per sub-section (4) of section 14 of the Act, twenty-four seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir have been reserved for the people residing in the area of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir under illegal occupation of Pakistan. The said seats shall remain vacant until the area under the occupation of Pakistan ceases to be so occupied and the people residing in that area elect their representatives. The representation of the “Kashmiri Migrants” and “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir” in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be given on lines of section 15 of the Act, which provides for the representation of women,” it added.

OTHER SOCIAL CASTES (OSC) TO BE REPLACED WITH OTHER BACKWARD CLASSES (OBC)

“The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023” proposes to amend section 2 of the Reservation Act by the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 so as to change the nomenclature of “Weak and under privileged classes (social castes)” occurring in sub-clause (iii) of clause (o), to “other backward classes” and to make consequential amendment in clause (q), of section 2 of the said Act.
As per the statement of Objects and Reasons, these amendments have been proposed on the recommendations of the Jammu and Kashmir Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (SEBCC), so as to remove the confusion amongst the general public as well as the competent authorities issuing certificates to eligible persons due to difference in such nomenclature. “The proposed amendment will also enable implementation of the Constitution (One Hundred and Fifth Amendment) Act, 2021, in letter and spirit,” it added.

Presently, in J&K, OSCs get 4 percent reservation in J&K but there is no provision of reservation for OBCs, who get 27 percent reservation at the national level.
While participating in the discussion, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said that earlier in Jammu and Kashmir, there were stone-pelting incidents in Kashmir but today there were no such incidents. “Today, not only at Lal Chowk but the Indian flag is hoisted in every lane in Kashmir,” Thakur said.

Union Minister of state in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh said that the government was ready to hold Assembly polls in J&K as and when the Election Commission (EC) would take a call. He blamed the first Prime Minister of the country for the Kashmir problem and credited the Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, thus correcting a “historical wrong.” Congress leader Manish Tewari sought to know about the timing of election and restoration of statehood in J&K.

Jamyang Tsering Namgyal of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said peace in Jammu and Kashmir was “more important” than elections.

Jugal Kishore Sharma of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the bill to change the nomenclature of “weak and underprivileged classes” to “Other Backward Classes” in Jammu and Kashmir would benefit people in getting reservation in other parts of the country for the first time.

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