The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019


The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 5, 2019 by the Amit Shah. This bill divides the Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs i.e. the Union Territory of Ladakh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Let us know in detail how the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 will affect the administration and geography of the Jammu and Kashmir.

The Union Territory of Ladakh will have Kargil and Leh districts, and the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir will comprise the remaining territories of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir.


Key changes:

  1. The President had used his powers under Article 370 to fundamentally alter the provision, extending all Central laws, instruments and treaties to Kashmir. However, the drastically altered Article 370 will remain on the statute books.
  2. While the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature, the one in Ladakh will not.
  3. The notification by the president has effectively allowed the entire provisions of the Constitution, with all its amendments, exceptions and modifications, to apply to the area of Jammu and Kashmir.
  4. The Bill proposes wide powers to the Lieutenant Governor of the proposed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and makes it the “duty” of the Chief Minister of the Union Territory to “communicate” all administrative decisions and proposals of legislation with the LG.
  5. All Central laws and State laws of J&K would apply to the new Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
  6. Assets and liabilities of J&K and Ladakh would be apportioned on the recommendation of a Central Committee within a year.
  7. Employees of State public sector undertakings and autonomous bodies would continue in their posts for another year until their allocations are determined.
  8. The police and public order is to be with the Centre.
  9. The notification amends the expression “Constituent Assembly”, contained in the proviso to clause (3) of Article 370, to mean “Legislative Assembly”.

Assembly seats in the Jammu and Kashmir:

The Reorganisation Bill, 2019 envisages total number of Legislative Assembly seats 107 in the Jammu and Kashmir. Out of these 107 seats 24 seats will remain vacant because these seats are in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) which is illegally occupied by the Pakistan.

After the abolition of article 370; some seats will be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

In addition to this; the Lieutenant Governor may nominate two women members if they are not adequately represented.

The Legislative assembly will have tenure of five years instead of 6 years of earlier.


The Power of Governor

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be administered by the President, through an administrator appointed by him. The administrator will be known as the Lieutenant Governor just like New Delhi Union Territory.

On the other hand the Union Territory of Ladakh will also be administered by the President, through a Lieutenant Governor appointed by him.

The Legislative Assembly may make laws for any part of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.These laws are related to;

(a) Any matters specified in the State List of the Constitution, except “Police” and “Public Order”, and

(b) Any matter in the Concurrent List applicable to Union Territories.

Further, Parliament will have the power to make laws in relation to any matter for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir like the other UTs of India.


Council of Ministers:

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Council of Ministers to aide and advise the Lieutenant Governor. The size of council of Minister will not be more than 10% of the total number of members in the Assembly.

The Chief Minister will communicate all decisions of the Council to the Lieutenant Governor like the Chief Minister of Delhi and Puducherry do.


Common High Court in the UTs:

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common High Court for the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. In addition to this there would be an Advocate General to provide legal advice to the government of the Union Territory of J&K.

Extent of laws: Now after the abolition of the article 370; there are 153 state laws of Jammu and Kashmir have also been repealed. This includes lifting of prohibitions on lease of land to persons who are not permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Now 106 laws of central list will be applicable to Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on a date notified by the central government. These new law will be; Right to Education Act, 2009, Right to Information Act, 2005, Indian Penal Code 1860, Aadhaar Act, 2016.

So the introduction of the The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 in the Jammu and Kashmir will open a new chapter in the history of India. Now the the Jammu and Kashmir will have investment and other opportunities like other Indian states and Union territories.


Impact:

  1. The tabling of the proposed Reorganisation Bill is also proof that the long reign of the 1954 Order has ended. The 1954 Order had introduced a proviso to Article 3, namely that “no Bill providing for increasing or diminishing the area of the State of Jammu and Kashmir or altering the name or boundary of that State shall be introduced in Parliament without the consent of the Legislature of that State“. That power of the State Legislature to give prior consent does not exist anymore. This has provided a free hand to the Centre to table the Reorganisation Bill.
  2. With the removal of the 1954 Order, the power of the State Legislature ceases to exist and Parliamentary laws, including that of reservation, would apply to Jammu and Kashmir as it does in other parts of the country.
  3. The government called this the end of “positive discrimination” and the closing of the “chasm” between residents of J&K and citizens of other parts of the country.
  4. The removal of the 1954 Order further also negates a clause which was added to Article 352. The Order had mandated that no proclamation of Emergency on grounds “only of internal disturbance or imminent danger shall have effect” in the State unless with the concurrence of the State government.

Criticism:

  1. The mechanism that the government used to railroad its rigid ideological position on Jammu and Kashmir through the Rajya Sabha was both hasty and stealthy. This move will strain India’s social fabric not only in its impact on Jammu and Kashmir but also in the portents it holds for federalism, parliamentary democracy and diversity.
  2. The passing of legislation as far-reaching as dismembering a State without prior consultations has set a new low.
  3. The entire exercise of getting Article 370 of the Constitution effectively abrogated has been marked by executive excess.
  4. A purported process to change the constitutional status of a sensitive border State has been achieved without any legislative input or representative contribution from its people.

Conclusion:

The special status of J&K was meant to end, but only with the concurrence of its people. The Centre’s abrupt move disenfranchised them on a matter that directly affected their life and sentiments. Moreover, that this was done after a massive military build-up and the house arrest of senior political leaders, and the communications shutdown reveals a cynical disregard of democratic norms. Whatever its intent in enabling the full integration of Jammu and Kashmir with India, this decision to alter the State’s status could have unintended and dangerous consequences.

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