To the relief of many, the MoS in PMO, Dr. Jitender Singh tweeted the decision of J&K Govt. to amend the Domicile Rules to bring “ease” in issuing these certificates, and to include in its ambit, at least, two categories of persons who were among the real focus of the acrimonious debate on discriminatory nature of the abrogated State Subject law, but ironically left out. The Rules notified on May 18, 2020 by UT Govt provide procedure for grant of Domicile certificates to nine categories of people, including the holders of Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC). While the notification is still awaited, the Govt is well advised to revisit these Rules and amend these or clarify certain procedural matters to eliminate the distress to the people.
The Govt needs to analyze the available data and experience of past four months before making necessary procedural corrections, clarifications and amendments to make “ease” in getting these certificates. As per the data available in public domain up to September 21, 18.52 lakh, Domicile Certificates have been issued (13.35 lakh in Jammu & about 5 lakh in Kashmir) Of these, Domicile certificates have been issued to only 30,445 non State subjects that included 18000 West Pakistani refugees, 1825 Valmikis and 755 Gorkhas. The Govt has not shared the number of applications rejected and on what grounds, analysis of which alone can help in “easing” issuance of these Certificates to the genuine people.
One of the major omissions in the Amendment Act and the Rules is to ‘deprive’ this facility to the children of the daughters of J&K married to non-State Subjects despite the fact that injustice to them was one of major plank of anti-Articles 370 & 35A campaign and the emotional talking points at every forum by BJP. While inserting Section 3A through an amendment in the J&K Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act, 2010 and also in the Rules made thereunder, the children of such daughters who were deprived of inheritance of non-movable property of the State Subject mother, were omitted, perhaps inadvertently. As per the Rules, the applicant is required to submit the PRC of his/her father to qualify for Domicile Certificate and when the non-State Subject father doesn’t have PRC, application is rejected. This deficiency has to be removed by amending Rule 5(1b) in the column V (Documents to be annexed with application) of the table and replacing “PRC of the parent” with “PRC of either of the parent”, instead of father.
Under the PRC laws, the non-State Subject girl married to a PRC man was eligible earlier for the ‘State Subject’ with all consequent benefits but they don’t fall in any of the categories for domiciliary law and as such, not eligible for Domicile Certificate. Conversely, the non-State Subject husband of the State Subject wife too is ineligible. The spirit of the law is not to deprive him or her of the eligibility for Domicile Certificate, and the Rules should be corrected by adding 1C to Rule 5 where another category of “spouse of a PRC holder” in column III and “PRC of either of the spouse and marriage certificate from a competent authority” in column V of the table.
The new Section 3A in Civil Services Act, 2010 defined the eligible persons but more clearly categorised in nine classes in Rule 5. These classes are persons who have resided in J&K for 15 years or have studied for seven years and appeared in class 10th/12th; registered migrant, children of Central Govt employees of various services having served in J&K for ten years and children of such residents who reside outside UT for job, business etc. fulfilling some listed conditions. Strangely, the PRC holders are not listed in the Act but they form the first category of Rule 5(1). But above two categories (omitted) don’t even find a mention in the Rules.
While these amendments are urgently needed to correct the Rule position in order to extend benefit to these categories that was the basis of perception war on Article 35A, but there are some more issues that come in the context of “ease” of getting Domicile Certificate on which clarifications can be issued by the Govt to eliminate harassment to the original State Subjects.
Change of residence since the issuance of PRC is a cause of rejection by the Competent Authority for Domicile Certificate. Similar is the problem in recording of the full name in PRC issued some forty or fifty years ago and now name with initials on Aadhaar Card too result in rejection of the application online. In the Rule 5 (1a) the only document required to be attached is PRC but in both cases the Competent Authority asks for Aadhaar Card and Ration Card. Most of the upper middle class people do not hold Ration Cards having higher income than the prescribed maximum limit. Why complicate the matter for the real permanent residents and also open up channels of corruption that is found convenient than facing unending inconvenience at the hands of “ public servants”, which doesn’t seem to be the objective of the framers of the domiciliary law.
The Govt should consider an amendment in Section 3A (1a) of the J&K Reorganisation (Adaption of State Laws) Order, 2020. Under it, a class of eligible persons is the one who “has resided” in J&K for 15 years or “has studied” for seven years with passing of 10th/12th Class. It means that any person who “has resided” here at any point of time is eligible for Domicile Certificate where it should have been “residing for 15 years”. Residing in J&K for 15 years (then move out) should not be the basis for Domicile Certificate as he cannot be given premium for staying here. Like in Himachal Pradesh, the applicant should be “residing” in J&K at the time of applying for Domicile Certificate.
The Centre, for inexplicable reason, did not follow H.P. policy on Domicile which covered all aspects. Right now, J&K Domiciliary law is only restricted to Govt jobs as it has come through amendment in J&K Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act, 2010. The Domiciliary law on land purchase has yet to be announced and consequently, the PRC continues to be a valid document for sale & purchase of property/land even without any official word on it.
As this Domicile Certificate is only for jobs, then why doesn’t the Rule evolve a mechanism for restricting issuance of this certificate to only those who are applying for jobs? What a pensioner or similarly placed resident senior citizens has to do with it? Had the Govt done it right in the beginning, there would not be such a mad rush for these certificates, causing avoidable pressure on the Tehsildars etc and preventing a window of corruption. The Govt should do it even now and reassure the people that they don’t need Domicile Certificates except for those applying for jobs. It would save lot of problem, time, money & energy.
Simultaneously, the Govt should clarify the status of PRC and documents required for sale & purchase property. There should not be any problem in keeping the PRC as a valid document till new document is provided as its replacement. After all, the people are entitled to know it, especially when the Lt. Governor professes for transparency and corruption free system in new J&K.