J&K: After facing scathing criticism, Centre amends new Domicile Law

All government jobs now reserved for domiciles of J&K

Srinagar, Jammu And Kashmir —

After facing severe criticism from all political parties, including BJP’s own wing in Jammu region, the BJP-led Central government has modified the new domicile rule. With the modified rule, all the government jobs in J&K have now been reserved exclusively for the domiciles of the UT.

The development comes after a scathing backlash against the new domicile law from all the regional political parties, especially Bharatiya Janata Party’s Jammu wing forced the Centre to rethink.

Among the many politicians who were vociferous in criticising the new rule included former CM Omar Abdullah. He had tweeted, “Talk about the 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 J&K. Insult is heaped on the injury when we see the law offers none of the protections that had been promised.”

“They are in a maddening rush to appropriate our land and resources. Wonder why they don’t show the same sense of urgency to save lives of thousands of Kashmiris jailed in & outside J&K?” Iltija Mufti, former CM Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter, had said.

Even the Jammu wing of BJP called the new rule as ‘a cause of worry and flagged their concern with the party leadership in Delhi including Home Minister Amit Shah. The Jammu unit of the party was especially concerned as one of the party leaders was quoted by The Hindu as having said, “We are facing a popular backlash from our people on this issue and it will harm us as and when polls take place.”

It is in place to mention that the new domicile rule for the UT was issued on March 31 while the modification was notified last evening through “The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Second Order, 2020” in The Gazette of India.

Through the amendment, Centre removed the Section of having reserving only Level 4 jobs to domiciles and keeping all other jobs open to everyone.

It has now kept all the government jobs reserved for the domicile persons of the Union Territory by replacing “a post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level-4 (25500)” with “any post” in Section 5A of the previous order. The order, however, doesn’t change the definition of domicile.

Earlier, only jobs up to the lowest level of non-gazetted rank were exclusively reserved for those, as per the new rule, who have resided in J&K for a period of 15 years, and children of all Central government employees who have served for a 10-year period in the UT. Now, with the new order, all government jobs will be reserved for the domiciles of the UT.

On August 05, 2019, the Central government passed the J&K Reorganisation Bill and bifurcated the erstwhile State into two UTs. It also abrogated Article 35-A, which granted powers of defining a permanent resident of J&K to the State Assembly. The right to own property and several other benefits of government jobs and schemes were exclusive to the “State subjects”, or the permanent residents of J&K.

On Tuesday, the new domicile law substituted ‘permanent resident of the State’ with ‘Domicile of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.’ The official notification states that it is for purpose of appointment to any service in UT of J&K.

The domicile would also be given to people registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants) in the UT of J&K. “Children of such residents of J&K as reside outside UT of J&K in connection with their employment or business or other professional or vocational reasons” but their parents fulfil any of the conditions provided earlier.

The gazette notification adds, “Children of those Central government officials, all India services officers, officials of PSUs and autonomous body of Central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, officials of Central universities and recognised research institutes of Central government who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a total period of ten years or children of parents who fulfil any of the conditions in Sections.”

The provisions of the Act authorise a Tehsildar as a competent authority for issuing the domicile certificate. Any aggrieved person may file an appeal before the concerned Deputy Commissioner who shall decide the appeal, providing an opportunity of being heard to the parties, within a period of sixty days.

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