Parliament approves 3 bills on J-K local bodies’ quota, SC/ST lists | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Parliament approves 3 bills on J-K local bodies’ quota, SC/ST lists

Feb 10, 2024 05:26 AM IST

The Rajya Sabha has passed three bills related to reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and modification of the lists of SC and ST in Jammu & Kashmir.

New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed three bills pertaining to reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in local bodies and modification of the lists of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in Jammu & Kashmir.

Rajya Sabha cleared the 3 bills by a voice vote on Friday. (ANI)
Rajya Sabha cleared the 3 bills by a voice vote on Friday. (ANI)

The Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024 and the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024 – all of which were cleared by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday – were tabled and passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha.

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The Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024 seeks to provide reservation to OBCs in panchayats and municipalities in Jammu & Kashmir and bring consistency in the local body laws of the Union territory with the provisions of the Constitution. Currently, there is no provision for reservation of seats for OBCs in panchayats and municipalities of the Union territory.

Read more: Watch: Massive avalanche hits Jammu and Kashmir’s Sonamarg, no damage

Speaking on the legislation, minister of state for home affairs Nityananda Rai said the government has taken several steps for the welfare of OBCs in Jammu & Kashmir and this amendment is another step in that direction.

According to Rai, there are three main amendments to the bill. Firstly, the bill ensures reservation for OBCs in panchayats and municipal bodies in Jammu & Kashmir. Secondly, the state election commission will be in-charge of conducting elections to panchayats and municipalities, he said.

Thirdly, the removal process of state election commissioner will be according to the constitutional provisions and can only be removed under circumstances similar to those of a judge of a high court, he said.

“Whenever there has been a commission to improve the law, their recommendations were never implemented by the Congress government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given rights and justice to the OBCs,” Rai said.

The minister also listed out the development works undertaken after removal of Article 370 in the Union territory and said the region is now peaceful and on the path of development.

The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024 seeks to amend the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order of 1956, which lists the castes deemed to be Scheduled Castes in Jammu & Kashmir, and Ladakh. The legislation adds the Valmiki community as a synonym of Chura, Balmiki, Bhangi, and Mehtar communities in the list of Scheduled Castes in Jammu & Kashmir.

Read more: The new Scheduled Tribe in J&K: Paharis

Replying to the discussion on the bill, minister for social justice and empowerment Virendra Kumar said the “communities will get the benefits of so many schemes with the passing of the legislation”.

The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2024 seeks to amend the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1989 and proposes the creation of separate lists of Scheduled Tribes for the Union territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh. The legislation also adds Gadda Brahmin, Koli, Paddari Tribe, and Pahari Ethnic Group communities in the list of Scheduled Tribes in Jammu & Kashmir.

Minister of tribal affairs Arjun Munda, while replying to the discussion on the bill, said it seeks to give justice to the communities who were demanding the status of a Scheduled Tribe for long. “The scrapping of Article 370 has allowed us to bring these laws,” he said.

The inclusion of the Pahari Ethnic Group on the Scheduled Tribe list has attracted the ire of the Gujjar and Bakarwal communities in Jammu. The Gujjar and Bakarwal communities – which so far enjoy the ST status – claim that the Pahari Ethnic Group is a well settled community and giving them the ST tag would cut into their reservations.

On Tuesday, section 144 of CrPC was imposed in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu amid fears of a law and order situation, as the legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha.

On Friday, Munda said: “The reservation already available for existing tribes will be maintained...”

Opposition members, however, raised concerns over the three legislations.

Congress’s Neeraj Dangi questioned the formulation of reservation policies in the absence of adequate data on reserved categories. “How do we make policies without data on reserved categories?” Dangi said.

CPI’S Sandosh Kumar P stressed the need for an elected state assembly in Jammu & Kashmir and questioned the basis for the OBC reservation. “We all support an OBC reservation. But where is the data available?” he said.

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