New Initiatives

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New systems and rules are emerging in the twin UTs of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, reports Tahir Bhat

Chief Secretary BVR Subramanium greets Lt Governor GC Murmu.

Chief Secretary BVR Subramanium greets Lt Governor GC Murmu.

The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir getting into the UT is a work in progress. On an almost daily basis, new rules are being made and new systems are emerging in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. All vehicles in Ladakh UT will have number plates starting with LA. The new incentive package for employees was formally announced. In Delhi, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has sought parliament approval for an additional expenditure of Rs 8820 crore in the twin UTs. This amount equals the grants supposed to come to the state from the 14th Finance Commission Award.

As central laws accommodating the economically backward classes by offering them clear quota in jobs and professional courses are in vogue after October 31, the government has withdrawn Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 that Lok Sabha passed on June 24.

FC AWARD

In order to manage the huge requirements that the biggest Indian UT will require, the government has extended the term of 15th Finance Commission by a year. Till date, the FC award would come to the state directly. Finance Commission awards devolutions from the central pool to the states and lacks an authority in case of UTs, which are managed by MHA directly. How the FC will route the devolutions due to Jammu and Kashmir, a state bifurcated into two UTs on October 31, will now be decided by the FC. Under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, the President will make a reference to the 15th Finance Commission to include UT of Jammu and Kashmir in its Terms of Reference and make an award for the successor Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

AC RECONSTITUTED

With the appointment of the two advisers to the Lt Governor GC Murmu, the Administrative Council (AC) was constituted on November 20, 2019. Now it has three members – the Lt Governor, who presides over it, and advisers – Farooq Khan and S Sharma. Chief Secretary continues to be the Secretary to the AC. Administrative Secretaries of the Departments of Finance, Planning, Development & Monitoring, General Administration, Law or of any other department would be invited to the meetings of the council as required by it.

The AC would decide on cases involving legislation, including the issue of ordinances, proposals to summon or prorogue or dissolve the legislature of the state, address of Governor to the legislature and cases involving the question as to whether a member of the House is subject to any disqualification. Besides, the annual financial statements to be laid before the legislature and demands for supplementary, additional or excess grants and cases in which the attitude of the government to any resolution or a Bill to be moved in the legislature is to be determined will be decided by the AC.

CENTRAL SERVICE QUOTA

Reports appearing in the media suggest the central services quota will change in case of Jammu and Kashmir. For every central service officer, Jammu and Kashmir state was elevating one senior KAS officer to the coveted service. The state government policy was that the 50:50 proportion should remain unchanged. Now, reports suggest the Department of Personnel and Trainings (DoPT) wants to implement 67:33 criteria.

This will help the Government to allocate more direct recruits to Jammu and Kashmir through AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh Goa Mizoram and Union Territories) cadre from 2020. DoPT has asked the LG’s administration to complete the cadre review of the prior allocations so that the UT will get increased numbers from next year. The earlier elected government had been unable to do the same.

OVER TO CAT

Services disputes arising out of the employees of the UT and administration will now be tackled by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). This is the natural outcome of the implementation of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 to Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, the CAT would take care of the disputes of the employees working for various central government departments in Jammu and Kashmir as the state employees would go to the High Court’s in Jammu and Srinagar for redressal of their grievances.

After October 31, 2019, the High Court of J&K with jurisdiction over Ladakh as well has initiated an exercise for identifying the matters falling under Sections 28 and 29 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 and are required to be transferred to the Central Administrative Tribunal to Chandigarh. Nearly 50,000 cases pending before the High Court pertaining to service matters.

It was not immediately known if the DoPT will consider opening CATs circuit bench in the UT of J&K UT or Chandigarh bench will continue handling the cases.

Meanwhile, under new labour law that clubs existing 44 labour law operating in India, employees will have to give their employer at least 14 days advance notice if it intends to go on strike.

RECONSTITUTING JKPSC

Section 93 of the Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation Act 2019 reads: “The persons holding office immediately before the appointed day as the Chairman or other member of the Public Service Commission for the existing State of Jammu and Kashmir shall, as from the appointed day, be the Chairman or, as the case may be, the other member of the Public Service Commission for the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.” It protected the composition of the Commission.

The latest is that it is being reconstituted. Soon, it will get a new Chairman and its members.

LOKAYUKTA

LG’s administration has set in motion the process of setting up Lokayukta in Jammu and Kashmir. It will deal with complaints relating to corruption against public functionaries. Under the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act passed by the Parliament in the year 2013, all states were supposed to set up a Lokayukta within a year. However, the Jammu and Kashmir state had not set up the body perhaps because it was already having Jammu and Kashmir Accountability Commission. After the abrogation of Article 370, the Commission along with the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and Vigilance Commissioners in the J&K Vigilance Commission ceased to exist since October 31, 2019. This will eventually pave the way for setting up of Lokayukta.

CONSTITUTION DAY

For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, all the government departments celebrated the Constitution Day by reading of the Preamble of the Constitution.

A GAD order explained the decision: “To acknowledge the contribution of the framers of the Constitution and sensitise people regarding the exalted values and the precepts enshrined in it, November 26 is being observed as Constitution Day. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution,” GAD Additional Secretary, Subash C Chhibber said in an order. The campaign on fundamental duties that began on November 26 will conclude on April 14, 2020, on Dr B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary.

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