J&K govt approves 3 major amendments in Panchayati Raj Act

The amendments were approved in a meeting of the Administrative Council chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. The meeting was also attended by Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to J&K LG, Chief Secretary J&K Atal Dulloo and Principal Secretary to LG Dr Mandeep K Bhandari.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 29 December, 2023 11:40 am IST
The Administrative Council (AC) which met here under the chairmanship of the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha approved carrying out amendments in Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 to incorporate the definition of OBCs in the Act

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir Government on Thursday approved three major amendments in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 extending reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), approving 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).

A senior official of the J&K Government told The New Indian, “The Act was amended to make it more effective by ensuring transparency in the functioning of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) and making it at par with the practice prevalent in other States/Union Territories.”

The amendments were approved in a meeting of the Administrative Council chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. The meeting was also attended by Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, Advisor to J&K LG, Chief Secretary J&K Atal Dulloo and Principal Secretary to LG Dr Mandeep K Bhandari.

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The OBCs will be getting reservations 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.

AC amends J&K Panchayati Raj Act to incorporate Reservation for OBCs

The OBCs will get reservations in Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) also for which the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation and Jammu and Kashmir Municipalities Acts will be amended separately. In the ULBs also, the reservation is presently limited to Women, SCs and STs.

Through another amendment, the Administrative Council also amended the Act to explain the 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 about misappropriation of funds and certain other issues, etc provided that they are established during the probe,” a senior official of the J&K Government said.

The Administrative Council has also given nod to the third amendment about defining the process for removal and conditions of service of the State Election Commissioner.

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As per the official of the J&K Government, “ 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.”

Jammu and Kashmir Government had earlier submitted the draft Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act (Amendment) Bill 2023 to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Administrative Council (AC) which met here under the chairmanship of the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha approved carrying out amendments in Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 to incorporate the definition of OBCs in the Act

“Observations raised by the Union 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 official said.

The official said, “ Proposed amendments are aimed at making Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 more effective by ensuring transparency in the 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 were due between October to December this year but were deferred due to the inclusion of OBCs in the reservation list.

“The elections will be held only after the 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 official said.

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