J&K Govt approves 3 major amendments in PR Act
Process for service conditions of SEC gets nod
Jammu, Dec 29:
The Jammu and Kashmir Government today approved three major amendments in Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 extending reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), approved method for disqualification from membership of Halqa Panchayat; suspension and removal of Sarpanchs, Naib Sarpanchs and Panchs and defined process for removal and conditions of service of the State Election Commissioner (SEC).
“The Act was amended to make it more effective by ensuring transparency in functioning of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and making it at par with the practice prevalent in other States/Union Territories,” officials told the Excelsior.
The amendments were approved at a meeting of the Administrative Council chaired by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and attended by Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to LG, Chief Secretary Atal Dulloo and Principal Secretary to LG Dr Mandeep K Bhandari.
The OBCs will be getting reservation for the posts of Sarpanchs and Panchs for the first time in Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, the political reservation in the PRIs was confined to Women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
The OBCs will get reservation in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) also for which Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation and Jammu and Kashmir Municipalities Acts will be amended separately. In the ULBs also, the reservation are presently limited to Women, SCs and STs.
Through another amendment, the Administrative Council also amended the Act to explain method of disqualification from membership of Halqa Panchayat; and suspension and removal of Sarpanch, Naib Sarpanch and Panch by the Government.
“The removal will be undertaken in case of inquiries pertaining to misappropriation of funds and certain other issues etc provided that they are established during the probe,” the officials said.
The Administrative Council has also given nod to third amendment that pertained to defining the process for removal and conditions of service of the State Election Commissioner.
As per the officials, all three amendments in the Panchayati Raj Act have been carried out to make the Act at par with other States/Union Territories or even better from them.
The Union Territory Government had earlier submitted the draft Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act (Amendment) Bill 2023 to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Observations raised by the Home Ministry were examined by the UT administration. Necessary amendments have been incorporated in the revised draft Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act (Amendment) bill,” the officials said.
They added that the proposed amendments are aimed at making Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 more effective by ensuring transparency in functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions, Constitutional alignment and consistency with practices in other States where reservation has been provided to the OBCs apart from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Municipal and Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir which were due between October to December this year but were deferred due to inclusion of OBCs in the reservation list.
“The elections will be held only after percentage of reservation to be given to OBCs in Municipalities and Panchayats is finalized. This will be followed by reservation of Wards in Municipal Corporations, Councils, Committees and Panchayats besides delimitation,” the officials said.
Though there has been no deadline set for conduct of elections to Panchayats and Municipalities the chances are that they will be held only after the Lok Sabha polls scheduled for April-May.
While all Urban Local Bodies have completed their five-year term in November and December, the Panchayats will complete their tenure on January 9. In absence of the Panchayats, the Block Development Councils (BDCs), which is second tier of the Panchayati Raj System, will also cease to exist.
However, the District Development Councils (DDCs) have their term till January 2026. The DDCs are third tier of the PRIs. This was for the first time that all three tiers of Panchayats have been established in Jammu and Kashmir.(By Daily Excelsior)