GST Row: Assembly session to begin today, FM to move resolution on 101st Amendment Act

The Government is set to move a resolution in the House on adoption of the controversial tax law by applying the Constitution (101st) Amendment Act to the State in a “modified form.”
GST Row: Assembly session to begin today, FM to move resolution on 101st Amendment Act
Representational Pic

With the 'special' session of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on implementing Goods and Services Tax regime beginning here on Tuesday, the Government is set to move a resolution in the House on adoption of the controversial tax law by applying the Constitution (101st) Amendment Act to the State in a "modified form."

"This House resolves that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir may give consent to the adoption of GST regime by application of relevant amendments made to the Constitution of India in a modified form to safeguard the existing constitutional position of J&K in the Union of India and the legislative powers under the Constitution of J&K," the resolution, to be moved by Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, reads.

Opposition parties, separatists and Kashmiri businessmen have been opposing the GST, saying it infringes on J&K's residual political autonomy and its special powers to legislate on financial matters.

On June 17, the Government had adjourned the House sine-dine but decided to not prorogue, or formally end, the session to keep the doors open for re-convening it to facilitate implementation of the tax law in the state. The Government had also constituted an all-party committee (APC) last month to evolve consensus over the tax law but it failed to narrow divergences among the political parties despite meeting twice under the chairmanship of PDP MP Muzaffar Hussain Baig.

Legally speaking, the PDP-BJP has numbers to adopt the resolution with their total strength in the 89-member House summing up to 58 members.

Among the ruling coalition's 58 lawmakers, PDP has 29 MLAs, BJP 26 and Peoples Conference two. The independent candidate from Zanskar Baqir Rizvi is also supporting the ruling coalition.

"A simple majority in required to adopt any resolution in the House," former Secretary General of Legislative Assembly Muhammad Ramzan told Greater Kashmir.

According to legal experts, the Cabinet concurrence is the only route for extending any amendment made in the Constitution of India to J&K.

Under clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution of India, the concurrence of the Government of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is required to apply any part of the Constitution of India to J&K.

Sources told Greater Kashmir that state cabinet is likely to give its concurrence for application of the Constitution (101st) Amendment Act to J&K, on Wednesday.

"The Assembly is likely to adopt the resolution on Tuesday or Wednesday," they said.

Meanwhile, the Opposition said the PDP is taking the legislative route to deceive the people and shift the blame of extending the Constitution (101st) Amendment Act 2016, on all the parties.

"PDP is playing smart. It has decided to take the legislative route to shift the responsibility of extending the Constitution (101st) Amendment Act on all parties of the State. They know they are eroding state's special position but want to give legitimacy to their act," J&K Congress president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said.

He asked the coalition government to spell out what constitutional safeguards are being taken to protect the state's special position.

On the other hand, National Conference spokesman Junaid Azam Mattu said the PDP-BJP is "being deceptive" by taking the legislative route to "validate its pre-mediated decision" to extend the Constitutional Amendment 101 to the State through a cabinet order that recommends extension of the amendment through the Presidential order.

Interestingly, it would be after a gap of 29 years that J&K will give its concurrence to extension of any amendment made in the Constitution of India to J&K. Post-1977, the State Government has given its concurrence only to two amendments related to parliamentary polls.

Post-2010, there has been demand for extending the 73rd and 74th amendments and the Article 16(4A) from some quarters but successive  governments have turned down them. The State Governments have been averse to extending any part of the Constitution of India to Jammu and Kashmir as "their application gifts law-making powers of state Assembly to the Parliament and have weakened State's special position in the past."

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