JK’s domicile law redefined: Political parties say its adding insult to injury
New Delhi: Nearly eight months after withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, the central government on Wednesday laid down rules for domicile and incorporated anyone who has resided in the Union Territory for 15 years or has studied for seven years, evoking sharp reactions from political leaders who said the move added insult to injury of the people.
The provisions were made through a gazette notification, titled the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Order-2020, in which 138 laws of the erstwhile state were scrutinised and changed or repealed.
One of the Acts amended was the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) in which a clause for domicile category was introduced under which jobs up to Group-4 in the government were protected.
Under the new law, anyone who has resided for 15 years in Jammu and Kashmir or has studied for seven years and appeared in Class 10 and Class 12 examinations in an educational institution located in the Union Territory is a domicile.
Anyone who is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) will also be deemed to be a domicile. Children of all-India services personnel who have served there for 10 years also come under the category.
The others who can be deemed to be a domicile include children of those central government officials, all-India services officers, officials of PSU and autonomous bodies of the central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, central university officials and those of recognised research institutes of the central government who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for 10 years.
Children of those who fulfil any of the conditions or children of such residents of Jammu and Kashmir who reside outside the Union Territory in connection with their employment or business or other professional or vocational reasons but their parents fulfil any of the conditions provided in sub-section are also considered domicile, the notification said.
The government also protected jobs up to Group-4 for domicile of the union territory and said no person shall be eligible for appointment to a post carrying a pay scale of not more than Group-4 (Rs 25,500) unless he is a domicile of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Group-4 is equivalent to the rank of constable in police parlance and multi-tasking staff.
As many as 28 of the 138 Acts have been repealed as the government laid down a procedure for being a domicile of the Union Territory, which came into existence on October 31, 2019, after the Centre abrogated special status to the erstwhile state and bifurcated it into UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The move evoked sharp reaction from political parties, including the newly formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party, which had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah last month.
The party questioned the timing of the order saying it was most unfortunate that such an important order was issued at a time when the whole country was battling for its survival and was under strict lockdown to stop spread of deadly coronavirus disease.
“While JKAP had been vehemently demanding Domicile Rights on land and jobs for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the order issued by the union government reflects a casual exercise carried out at bureaucratic level without taking aspirations and expectations of people into consideration,” JKAP president Syed Altaf Bukhari said in a statement here.
He demanded that the order be put in abeyance till the country is out of dangers arising out of COVID-19.
“Talk about suspect timing. At a time when all our efforts and attention should be focused on the COVID outbreak the government slips in a new domicile law for JK. Insult is heaped on injury when we see the law offers none of the protections that had been promised,” National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah said in a series of tweets.
In an apparent reference to the criticism of the domicile law by JKAP, the former chief minister of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir said the new law was so hollow that even politicians with “Delhi’s blessings” were forced to criticise it.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the rules will give rise to massive problems for residents of J-K. “The domicile law as it appears is not only trying to shake the boundaries of an already existing state, but it is also trying to give rise to massive problems for residents of J&K,” the PDP said on its official Twitter handle.
The party said the Centre’s manipulation of the law would only further alienate the people.
Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference (JKPC) led by Sajad Gani Lone said the presidential order defining the domicile law issued at the depth of night while the world is under the grip of a deadly pandemic, falls way short of expectations even for those who expected some relief and some reconciliation process.
“The lowest rung in jobs has been reserved for locals – not even non-gazetted, but Class IV jobs….What is ironically historical though is that in the middle of one of the worst medical disasters facing the world, the Government of the day has the time and patience to script a disaster of its own,” the party said. (PTI)