Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, as amended and notified by the MHA on October 17
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the adoption of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, which was amended and notified by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on October 17.
The amendment paves the way for the creation of District Development Councils (DDCs), whose members will be directly elected by the people.
“The move will help establish all the three tiers of grassroots-level democracy in the Union Territory (UT) like in other parts of the country,” said Union Minister Prakash Javadekar.
“The three-tier system was not there in Kashmir before. They did not have the opportunity to elect their local representatives. This step redeems the promise made by the Prime Minister in Kashmir and the Home Minister in Parliament. Now there will be early elections, and the power to manage local bodies will go to the people. Locally elected representatives will be able to do district and block-level planning, and implement welfare schemes,” Mr. Javadekar noted.
As per the amendment, the DDCs will have jurisdiction over the entire district, excluding those areas designated as municipalities or municipal corporations.
Political parties’ concern
Political parties in J&K have expressed concern that this will limit the MLAs’ role. The Assembly was dissolved in November 2018. Last year, the special status of the former State under Article 370 of the Constitution was revoked and it was downgraded and bifurcated into UTs- J&K and Ladakh, the latter without an assembly. Currently, J&K is under the administrative control of the Lieutenant Governor.
The order issued after the amendment says, “Every district will be divided into 14 territorial constituencies to elect members of the body. The DDC shall consist of the directly elected members from territorial constituencies in the district, members of the Legislative Assembly representing a part or whole of the district whose constituencies lie within the district and the Chairperson of all Block Development Councils of the district”.
“All DDC members, whether or not elected by direct election from the territorial constituencies in the district, shall have the right to vote in the meeting of the District Development Council,” reads the amendment.
“But the MLAs will have no voting rights in the case of election or removal of the chairman and vice-chairman. Only the directly elected members shall have the right to vote”, it adds.