Sunday, March 3, 2024

Lok Sabha passes two new amendment  bills on Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill 2023 have been passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act of 2004 included reservation in jobs and admission in professional institutions for certain deprived sections namely  Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and other socially and educationally backward classes.

The current amendment is aimed at amending section 2 of the 2004 act.

The amendment bill brings a change in the naming of the beneficiaries who were earlier described as “weak and under privileged classes (social castes)” to “other backward classes”. 

On the other hand, it eliminates the original definition of weak and under-privileged classes and creates an ambiguous category.

The bill also provides for a new criterion of reservation for economically weaker sections in professional institutions.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 modifies the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which divided  the erstwhile state into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. 

This proposed bill seeks to increase the total number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly from 107 to 114, of which seven would be reserved for scheduled caste members and nine seats for scheduled tribes. 

In another strange motion put forward by the bill, 24 seats of the Assembly will symbolically remain vacant until the occupation in “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” ceases. 

Therefore, the tangible strength of the Assembly, which was earlier 83, will be increased to 90.

Lieutenant governor will be endowed with a special power to nominate up to two members from the Kashmiri migrant community to the legislative assembly, with one being a woman.

The definition of “Kashmiri Migrants” covers  persons who migrated from Kashmir Valley or any other part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir after November 1, 1989, and are registered with the Relief Commissioner

One member representing the “displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir’ may also be nominated in addition.

Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly said that the ‘naya Kashmir’ — envisioned through the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 — aims at providing “rights to those who faced injustice” for the last 70 years.

During the debates, several opposition members spoke against the passing of the bill as the final verdict on the validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 and the abrogation of Article 370 is still pending in the Supreme Court.

The opposition also sought the reason why elections have not been held in J&K for four years since the abrogation of the special status.

The government has 21 Bills on its agenda for the Winter Session, including the bills to replace the IPC, the Indian Evidence Act and the CrPC.

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