Sin to leave them out on domicile issue

It becomes our moral duty to express our concerns in this regard and espouse the rightful claim of the people
Representational Pic
Representational Pic

The government of India issued the GazetteNotification in regard to the Domicile matters in the UT of J&K, a fewweeks before, on 31st March 2020. It made some important amendments to theNotification after a couple of days, based upon certain demands made by thevarious sections of people in J&K, and allowed all posts in the governmentand semi-government institutions to be filled up by the domiciled in the state.

The scrapping of Article 370 and 35A inAugust 2019 by the Parliament necessitated formulation of a new set of rulesfor recruitment in the Union Territory of J&K keeping in view the allimportant issue of Domicile. It needs to be mentioned that some of thepoliticians and activists, who have not yet come out of the hangover of specialstatus "granted" under the erstwhile Article 370/35A of the Indianconstitution, need some more time to reconcile to the new political realities.It includes those leaders, and their followers, who were under detention forthe past six to eight months after the 5-6 August 2019 developments.

However, the definition of Domicile inJ&K was, as per the Notification, classified into four main categories. TheUnion government in its latest gazette notification stated that any person whohas resided in the Union Territory of J&K for a period of fifteen years orhas studied for the period of seven years and appeared in secondary and highersecondary board examination would be considered as "Domicile ofJ&K" and appointed in the services there. The displaced citizens ofJammu & Kashmir who are registered as "migrants" with the Relief& Rehabilitation Commissioner's office, from both Jammu and Kashmirregions, irrespective of their stay in J&K is the third category of theDomiciled.

The fourth category of the Domiciledincludes the Children of central government officers (Army, paramilitaryforces, IAS, IPS), and employees of public sector undertakings and banks,central universities etc who have served in Jammu & Kashmir for 10 years.It also needs to be clarified that the children of the domiciled, as per theNotification, will also be eligible to apply for gazetted and non-gazettedgovernment jobs in the state, irrespective of their stay in Jammu &Kashmir. This however, will not affect the recruitment and allocation processof IAS, IPS, IFS and other similar cadre appointees, and it will continue to beguided by the existing rules and practices.

The Gazette notification has also to makeit clear whether for the issuance of the Domicile certificate, the authorities(In this case Tehsildar) would be guided by the old rules and submission of documents or a new set of rules andsubmission of documents would be required. This also requires a completereview. The displaced people registered as "migrants", ordinarily,shouldn't need any certificate as they are the "deemed domiciled".However, those who are registered at places other than Jammu and Kashmir needto be brought under the purview of the Gazette notification for which only aclarification by the Relief Commissioner's office to the effect would besufficient. It is imperative upon the government to come with an order in thisregard delegating powers to the Relief Commissioner's office to issue such aclarification as soon as possible.

Lastly, there is an important issue ofinclusion of the fifth category of residents of Jammu and Kashmir as theDomicile Residents. It is an issue of natural justice and so needs to be takenup forthwith. The Gazette Notification is silent about this important and anintegral section of the J&K society. It becomes our moral duty to expressour concerns in this regard and espouse the rightful claim of the people whootherwise should have been ordinarily included in the Notification as the fifthcatagory of the Domiciled people of the UT of Jammu & Kashmir. The peopleof Jammu and Kashmir since times immemorial have been going to the regionsoutside their state for education, business, jobs and other assignments. Timeto time persecutions have also led to their exodus from their homestead.Sometimes they would come back to their state and live and settle there onceagain. However, since 1947, the time of our independence, this process did notstop.

The original inhabitants and the hereditaryresidents who possessed the certificate of state subject of the erstwhile Jammuand Kashmir state continue to live outside Jammu and Kashmir in many parts ofIndia and the world. Since they are not in a position to prove their stay of 15years in the state/UT, hence they are not covered by the new Notification onDomicile issue. Similarly, most of them are also not registered as"migrants" with the office of the Relief and RehabilitationCommissioner. In such a situation, this vast chunk of our brethren belonging toJammu and Kashmir state ceases to be the Domicile of the UT of J&K, thoughthey possess the Hereditary State Subject certificates as well.

This author raised this issue with theofficial representative of the PMO and the government of India, some days agoand it needed to be pursued further. It would be the travesty of law of naturaljustice including the human rights infringement, along with the denial ofIndigenous people's rights to the hereditary state subjects to deny their birthright to them to be a part of their birthland, both physically and legally. Thenew law can't be arbitrary in this regard at any cost.

As per a rough estimate, there are half amillion of such people living all round the world since 1947 and theyoriginally belong to the divisions of Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and parts of theoccupied land of Jammu and Kashmir. All such people among them who possessvalid state subject certificates of J&K, the progeny of their blood and thedaughters-in-law in their families have a natural and legal right to claim the Domicilestatus, irrespective of whether they are included in the Notification or not.It would be a sin to leave them out.

It would be in the fitness of things thatthe government of India, at both the levels, Prime Minister's Office &Ministry of Home Affairs reviews the new law in this perspective and takes theconcerned into confidence before taking the last call. Interpretation, rulesand bylaws for the recruitments are yet to come, but this Gazette notificationwill have an overriding effect on the land laws and rules in the UT,eventually. Therefore, it becomes important to make it sure that the fifthcatagory of the residents of Jammu and Kashmir are granted hearing and justicein time and the government makes amends before it is too late.

An open letter in this connection has alsobeen sent to the PMO, MHA and the office of the Lt. Governor of UT of Jammu andKashmir for consideration of the pertinent issues of concern on priority andantecedence.

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