Bill to amend Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act tabled in Lok Sabha | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Bill to amend Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act tabled in Lok Sabha

ByAman Singh, New Delhi
Jul 27, 2023 12:44 AM IST

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was introduced by the Union government in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, amid continuous protests by opposition parties over the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was introduced by the Union government in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, amid continuous protests by opposition parties over the ongoing ethnic violence in Manipur.

The bill seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019. (ANI)
The bill seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019. (ANI)

The bill seeks to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 and reserve two seats for Kashmiri migrants and one seat for displaced people from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the Union territory’s legislative assembly. These members will be nominated by the L-G, according to the provisions of the bill.

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Introducing the bill, Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai said the bill provides for representation of Kashmiri migrants and displaced persons from PoK in the legislative assembly of Jammu and Kashmir so as to preserve their political rights as well as their overall social and economic development.

“The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 provides for the following, namely: to insert new sections 15A and 15B in the Act so as to nominate not more than two members, one of whom shall be a woman, from the community of Kashmiri Migrants, and one member from Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir, to the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir; and amendments to sub-sections (3) and (10) of section 14 of the Act which are of consequential in view of completion of delimitation process in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” according to the statement of objects and reasons.

Opposing the bill, the National Conference (NC) pointed out that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 has already been challenged in the court.

“I oppose the introduction of the bill on the grounds that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act is a constitutionally suspect law. Judicial scrutiny is determined by the apex court… it’s against constitutional morality... The constitutionality of the law is being examined,” NC member Hasnain Masoodi said.

On August 5, 2019, Parliament passed the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill that led to bifurcation of the erstwhile state (into J&K and Ladakh) and the effective abrogation of Article 370 that gave the region its “special status”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019, however, was rejected by most political parties in the Union territory and the entire process of dilution of Article 370 has been challenged in the Supreme Court. The top court is scheduled to hear a batch of petitions in this regard from August 2.

Political parties in J&K earlier criticised the bill, saying the authority to nominate the members for the reserved seats should rest solely with an elected government.

J&K has been without an elected government ever since the BJP withdrew its support to Mehbooba Mufti’s PDP-led ruling coalition in June 2018. In 2022, a Delimitation Commission submitted its final report, paving the way for assembly polls. A delimitation exercise to redraw the boundaries of assembly seats increased the total seats from 107 to 114. Of this, nine seats have been reserved for Scheduled Tribe.

Two other bills concerning the Union territory – Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023 – were introduced by Union ministers Virendra Kumar and Arjun Munda, respectively.

The first bill seeks to include the Valmiki community as a synonym of Chura, Bhangi, Balmiki, and Mehtar in the list of Scheduled Castes of Jammu and Kashmir. The second aims to revise the list of Scheduled Tribes of the Union territory.

In the Lower House, Rai also introduced the Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023, that seeks to create a user-friendly registration process and modernise national and state-level databases on births and deaths.

The bill was opposed by Congress MP from Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Manish Tewari. “I rise to oppose the introduction of the said bill on the want of legislative competence on three counts. It transgresses on the right to privacy. It transgresses on the right to separation of powers. It suffers from the malady of excessive delegation. If the speaker would permit, I could read out in detail as to what are the reasons for opposing the bill,” he said.

Union minister Pralhad Joshi introduced the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2023, which aims to alter the Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 by introducing exploration licences and removing certain minerals from the atomic minerals list.

The bill was opposed by N K Premachandran of the Revolutionary Socialist Party. “...It will adversely affect public sector undertakings as well as the safety and security of the nation. Multinational corporations will benefit from the amendment bill,” he said.

Premachandran also referred to the Parliament rule book which says that once a no-confidence motion has been admitted, “no substantive motion of policy matters to be brought before the House by the Government till the motion of no-confidence has been disposed of.’’

Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla admitted a no-confidence motion moved by Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi against the Narendra Modi government, setting the stage for a showdown between the Opposition and treasury benches over Manipur and other burning issues.

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