The Centre on Thursday merged Jammu and Kashmir cadre IAS, IPS and IFS officers with that of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT), also called the Union Territory cadre, through an ordinance.
The move will allow officers posted in these states and UTs to work in J&K and vice versa.
In a gazette notification, the government said the President has promulgated an ordinance to amend J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019.
The Act had made provision for retention of J&K cadre for existing officers and stated that new officers posted in the state would henceforth come from UT cadre. The ordinance has now merged the existing J&K cadre as well with UT cadre.
“It’s a follow-up to J&K turning into UT and merging into the mainstream. It was an obvious next step because now it’s a UT,” MoS, PMO and Personnel, Jitendra Singh told The Indian Express.
Political message, administrative move
The merger of the existing J&K cadre of IAS, IPS and IFS officers is both a political and administrative move. It sends the message of total integration of J&K with the Centre while putting a question mark on the time it may take to return the region’s statehood. The move is also seen to have been necessitated by the reluctance of J&K cadre officers to serve in Ladakh. It gives government a larger talent pool for the UTs.
The ordinance has replaced sub-sections 2-6 of the law with two sub-sections, which say that members of IAS, IPS and IFS for the existing J&K cadre “shall be borne and become part of the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre, and all future allocations of All India Services Officers for the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union territory of Ladakh shall be made to Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union territories cadre for which necessary modifications may be made in corresponding cadre allocation rules” by the Centre.
It says officers “so borne or allocated” on AGMUT cadre shall function in accordance with rules framed by the Centre.
Sources said the ordinance is likely to have significant bearing on the administration of the two UTs. “It will give the government access to a larger talent pool at a time it is trying to quicken the pace of development in the erstwhile state,” a senior Union government functionary said.
Sources in J&K administration said the move was also necessitated by paucity of officers in Ladakh. Since the region is harsh, most officers are unwilling to serve there.
Sub-Section (2) of Section 88 of the Act stated that members of IAS, IPS and IFS cadres “for the existing State of Jammu and Kashmir, on and from the appointed day, shall continue to function on the existing cadres.”
Sub-section (4) had provision for allocation officers to J&K and Ladakh from the cadre. It stated, “members of each services, currently borne on the Jammu and Kashmir cadre immediately before the appointed day shall be finally allocated between” the UTs of J&K and Ladakh “in such manner and with effect from such date or dates as the Central Government may, by order, specify” on the two L-Gs’ recommendation.
The ordinance has also made an addition in Section 13, inserting the words “or any other article containing reference to elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State” after “in Article 239A”.
Section 13 says: “On and from the appointed day, the provisions contained in article 239A, which are applicable to “Union territory of Puducherry”, shall also apply to the “Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir”.