SRINAGAR: Kashmir’s two main political parties, the NC and the PDP are quite restive over Article 35(A), a constitutional guarantee to the distinct demographic identity of the state. But what they did to the commission that the NC appointed when Dr Farooq Abdullah came to power in 1996?
By 2001, the state revenue ministry was tackling the cases of the fake state subjects were seriously and cancelling their PRC (Permanent Resident Certificates). The cancellations were the routine follow up to the recommendations made by the Commission.
In December 2001, the state revenue ministry cancelled PRC of almost 20 families in the last reported order. Under the stringent state subject laws, the law demands that the immediate confiscation of the immovable property, which the fake citizens might have acquired in the state. By then there were 700 complaints before the Commission.
Jammu & Kashmir, it may be recalled here, have tough domicile laws. Besides Article 370 – the constitutional guarantee that is the bridge between Jammu & Kashmir and the Union of India, it is the stiff state subject law that makes this northern border state a different entity in the Indian polity.
The state subject law, it is worth mentioning here, owes its genesis to the last Maharaja of the princely state His Highness Maharaja Hari Singh when on April 20, 1927, he issued a proclamation placing state subjects in four different categories. It was supplemented by another notification of June 27, 1932. The twin royal decrees were infact in response to an agitation launched by the Kashmiri Pandits seeking a ban over the entry of outsiders into the state that, they said, was marring their employment opportunities.
These proclamations were incorporated in section 6 of the state constitution when it was adopted in 1954. A permanent resident, according to state provisions read with Article 35 (a) of the Indian Constitution, is the person who has been living continuously in Jammu & Kashmir for ten years prior to May 14, 1954, and must have acquired immovable property lawfully. All those citizens who became part of the territory administered by Islamabad after 1947 are also state subjects of the state. Interestingly, the females forfeit their domicile status in case they choose to marry a non-state subject.
When Dr Farooq Abdullah led National Conference government resumed office in October 1996, there were enormous reports of `outsiders’ acquiring fake PRCs, especially during the gubernatorial regime (1990-96). It was after the consistent insistence of the legislatures that the government appointed a one-man commission of Justice (retired) A Q Parray to examine the issue and make recommendations. This was done despite stiff resistance to the setting up of the Commission by a section of the bureaucracy.
After initial news making, the action take reports stopped coming on this front. Nobody knows what happened to the recommendations that the Commission had forwarded to the state revenue ministry in the BJPDP government.
“I have no idea,” Naeem Akhter, senior PDP leader and former minister said when asked about the Commission recommendations to the government and the immediate follow up. A PDP worker who was not part of the government said Basharat Bukhari must know it because he was the Revenue Minister and only he can say if he slept over the recommendations.
Bukhari has since deserted PDP and joined the NC. Repeated attempts to reach him failed.
While the two parties are expected to rake the issue of Article 35(A) in the campaign for Lok Sabha and the state assembly, they will face uncomfortable questions about what they did on the fake PRC issue when there was no threat to any constitutional guarantee.