by Syed Junaid Hashmi
JAMMU: J&K government has constituted a committee headed by Advocate General to look into the issue of validity of permanent resident certificates issued to woman married outside the state to the non-state subjects, official sources said.
Headed by Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, the committee includes Commissioner/Secretary Revenue Mohammed Asharaf Mir, Commissioner/Secretary Law Abdul Majeed Bhat and Special Secretary Revenue Farooq Ahmed. Considered as experts in Revenue mattes, Advocate H.A.Siddiqui and Advocate N.H.Shah have been included as Special Invitees. The committee was constituted after the intervention of Governor N.N.Vohra.
The committee has been asked to submit report within two months on four issues framed by the revenue department in consultation with law department in order to remove the difficulties being faced by the subordinate revenue officers while implementing the state subject law. Sources said that a lady Suman Gupta, who has been married to a non-state subject, approached the office of Governor N.N.Vohra after Jammu and Kashmir Service Selection Board (JKSSB) refused to recommend her name to the education department for being allowed to join as teacher.
According to her application, she had got selected as teacher and when she approached SSB for her recommendation letter, SSB refused saying that the same cannot be issued since she had married a non-state subject and her state subject certificate was not valid anymore. Peeved at this, the lady approached the office of Governor, pleading him to intervene for getting her issue resolved.
Governor N.N.Vohra immediately wrote to the state government advising the issue be resolved immediately in the light of the judgment in the case of Dr. Sushila Swahney wherein High Court had said that a woman does not lose her state subject on marrying a non-state subject. But the judgment had remained silent on issue of children of female state subject married to a non-state subject.
The committee has been constituted to examine the case of Suman Gupta in details besides laying down clear cut guidelines and rules for woman who get married outside the state to non-state subjects. Sources said that the committee would deliberate on the issue of status of the women who marry non-state subjects and then either get widowed or divorced. The committee would also look into the status of the children of these widows and divorcees.
“Since the issue of state subject marrying a non-state subject was partially settled by the High Court in the Dr Sushila Swahney case, the same is being looked into by the committee. The issues left out by the high court have to be addressed. These include rights of the females who get married outside the state to non-state subjects, then get either divorced or widowed. The committee will look into the state subject rights of the children,” said a member of the committee.
The member, talking to Kashmir Life anonymously, said that if the children are granted state subject right, that would amount to violation of the Section 6 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, read with Article 35-A of the Constitution of India. Prior to 2002, the Revenue Department was issuing Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs) to the female residents of Jammu and Kashmir with the endorsement as “Valid till Marriage”. This became ground for a petition before the State High Court about 14 years back whereby selection of a doctor was challenged on the plea that she was married to non-State subject.
The judgment of Single Judge whereby selection was quashed was challenged in the Division Bench of J&K High Court and keeping in view the involved legal issue a Full Bench comprising of Justice V.K. Jhanji, Justice T.Doabia and Justice Muzaffar Jan was constituted. The reference before the Full Bench was: “Whether the daughter of a permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir marrying a non-permanent resident loses her status as a permanent resident of State, to hold, inherit and acquire immovable property in the State?”
In view of the majority opinion, the Full Bench in a case titled Jammu and Kashmir versus Dr Sushila Swahney and others held that a daughter of a permanent resident marrying a non-permanent resident will not lose the status of permanent resident of J&K. Though the State Government initially filed Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against the verdict of Full Bench of J&K High Court but later withdrew the same after making an opinion that it will carry out necessary amendments in the Act governing issuance of PRCs. However, this exercise could not be carried forward because of varied reasons as a result of which several issues relating to women marrying non-State Subjects remained unresolved.
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In the absence of clear guidelines and clarifications on certain aspects, the Subordinate Revenue officers, who were authorized to issue PRCs started facing difficulties and accordingly they approached the Administrative Department with the issues—whether there is a requirement to omit the endorsement made on the PRCs as “Valid Till Marriage” of those PRC holders who had obtained prior to the pronouncement of Dr Sushila Swahney Judgment or to issue fresh certificates; whether the children born out of the couple where husband is the non-State subject and presently settled in the house of his father-in-law and the wife is a State subject, are entitled to acquire the benefits on the status of mother with regard to issuance of PRC on the premises of her own inherited immovable property in the State.
The other issues projected by the Subordinate Revenue officers included whether the children of women who have married to a non-State subject and are residing out of the State are entitled for grant of rights and status of permanent resident-ship on the ground of being children of permanent resident mother and whether a state subject woman married to a non-state subject will lose her status of State subject or is entitled to retain her rights in holding the immovable property in the state. These issues were taken up with the Department of Law, which referred the case to the Advocate General. Finally, the law department vide communication dated January 1, 2015 conveyed the opinion of Advocate General to Revenue Department.
Revenue Department was asked to constitute an expert committee to thrash out the issues arisen after judgment in Dr Sushila Swahney case so that a government policy is evolved. However, the Revenue Department remained slept over the issue. State President of BJP Sat Sharma said “We fully support state subject certificates for all females without discriminating between someone having married a state subject or a non-state subject.”