Jammu and Kashmir to have elected District Dev Councils

In a significant development, Government of India has amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Act1989 to pave way for establishment of District Development Councils in every district of Jammu and Kashmir.

The new amendment has authorized the district commissioners to divide districts into 14 single-member territorial constituencies for the District Development Council.

Following the amendment, the Secretary to J&K Government, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, has issued a notification stating that the Chapter VIII-A District Development Council is inserted in the Panchayati Raj Act -1989.

According to “the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Fourth Order, 2020, there shall be a district development council having jurisdiction over the entire district excluding such portions of the district as are included in a Municipality or Municipal Corporation constituted under any law.

The district development council shall consist of the directly elected members from territorial constituencies in the district, members of the Legislative Assembly representing a part or whole of the district whose constituencies lie within the district and the chairpersons of all Block Development Councils of the district.

“All members of District Development Council, whether or not elected by direct election from territorial constituencies in the district shall have the right to vote in the meeting of the District Development Council,” reads the amendments carried out by the Ministry of Home Affairs in J&K’s Panchayat law.

However as per the amendments in the Act, the Member of Legislative Assembly will have no voting rights in the case of election or removal of the chairman and vice-chairman, only the directly elected members shall have the right to vote.

According to the amendments, every district development council shall have a different set of standing committees for finance, health, education, public works etc.

The Member of Parliament representing the area shall be the chairperson of the committees, the amendment mention.

As per the notification of the J&K government, “Delimitation of constituencies of a district development council, the deputy commissioner shall divide the district development council into fourteen single member territorial constituencies provided that the ratio between population of the territorial area of a constituency and the number of seats in the district development council shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the area of the district development council.”

“While delimiting the constituencies, the deputy commissioner shall determine the number of constituencies to be reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and women in every constituency of district development council in accordance with the provisions of the Act and distribute the seats reserved for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes as far as practicable in those areas in a district development council where the proportion of their population to the population in total is comparatively large.”