DDC chairpersons placed above MPs, MLAs in status

Representational Photo

Government today issued fresh “warrant of precedence” placing Chairpersons of District Development Councils (DDC) with in their respective territorial jurisdictions, above MPs, MLAs and Chief Secretary and Vice Chairpersons equivalent to Administrative Secretaries within their respective jurisdictions in Jammu and Kashmir.

“The warrant of precedence shall be observed at all ceremonial functions/occasions of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” reads an order issued by Hospitality and Protocol Department in supersession of all previous orders with regard to the warrant of precedence.

In this order, the DDC Chairpersons have been kept equivalent with the Mayor within their respective territorial jurisdiction at serial number 19A. “However, the DDC Chairpersons and Mayors within their respective territorial jurisdictions have been placed above the Member of Parliament (MP), Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Army Commanders/Vice Chief of Army Staff, Chief Secretary, Secretaries to the Government of India (including officers holding this office of ex-officio)”.

The warrant of precedence has placed MPs at serial number 21 and the Army Commanders, Vice-Chief of Army Staff, Chief Secretaries to the State Governments/ Union Territories, MLAs of the UTs within their respective UTs etc. figure at serial number 23.

On the other hand, the DDC Vice Chairpersons, within their respective jurisdictions, have been placed equivalent to all Administrative Secretaries, Divisional Commissioners, Inspector General of Police (IGPs), Chief Conservator of Forests at the serial number 26. The DDC Vice Chairpersons have been placed above Vice Chancellors of the Universities within the States/UTs. The VCs are placed at serial number 27.

However, members of DDCs have been kept at the bottom at serial number 28 along with District Magistrates, officers of rank of Brigadiers, Major Heads of Department/Conservator of Forests, District and Sessions Judges, Chairperson, BDC, Presidents Municipal Councils, and Municipalities.

This placement has annoyed the elected members of the DDCs in Jammu and Kashmir.

In earlier warrant of precedence issued in the second week of March, the government had placed Chairpersons of DDCs at serial number 25, equivalent to Administrative Secretaries, Divisional Commissioners, IGPs, Joint Secretaries of Government of India and officers of the rank of Major General or equivalent ranks. And, the DDC Vice-Chairpersons were equivalent to Vice-Chancellors of Universalities within the Union Territory, in the earlier warrant of precedence which now has been amended following resentment.

“We are satisfied with the decision of the government with regard to positions given to DDC Chairpersons and Vice Chairpersons,” said Chairperson, DDC Jammu district, Bharat Bhushan.

Bushan said that the government should not have kept DDC members at the bottom. “This is annoying. I have got several calls on the issue. We will sit together with the DDC members and accordingly, raise this issue with the government.”

Meanwhile, Independent DDC member from Surankote, Sohail Malik expressed surprise over the placement of DDC members at the same place to which they had objected. “It is injustice with the DDC members,” he said and urged the government to reconsider the warrant of precedence.

Pertinently, the fresh warrant of precedence was issued following strong resentment among the Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons and the DDC members who had boycotted two-day training programme in Jammu’s Government Convention Centre.

Following a meeting of representatives of DDCs from across the Union Territory with Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, they had called off their two-day strike on the assurances given by the government.