Almost three months since it was decided to abrogate special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state into two Union territories, the state administration has been burning the midnight oil to implement the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.
While 153 state laws were to be repealed, in the next one year the administration would be undertaking a massive legislative exercise to make state-specific insertions in 108 central laws that would now be applicable to the two Union territories.
For example, the state had its own version of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which will now be replaced by the central CrPC. Unlike the Ranbir Penal Code, which is practically a replica of the Indian Penal Code, Kashmir’s CrPC has many provisions that are different from the central CrPC. “It would have to be seen if any modification needs to be done to suit the state. But the final decison in all these aspects would be taken by Delhi,” an official said.
Difference in age limit in Juvenile Justice Acts
A bone of contention with regard to the Juvenile Justice Acts of the Centre and the state is the age limit. While the central Act considers those above the age of 16 as adults, the state Act’s age limit is 18. The argument has been that given the special situation in Kashmir, where teenagers are often found to be part of violent protests, the central Act could jeopardise the future of many.
“Similarly, there are state-specific insertions that may be done in laws related to protection of women and children, which have been replaced by the POCSO Act of the Centre. Same is the case with the Juvenile Justice Act. Then there is the law related to reservations in the state which has been retained. While quota for economically weaker sections (EWS) has already been added to it through an amendment, the Centre may want to make some insertions drawing from central Acts,” another state administration official said.
The state’s reservation laws do not recognise reservation according to caste. The state has provision for region-wise reservation such as quota for those living near the LoC and International Border and quota for backward regions. The state population comprises 8% Scheduled Caste and 10% Scheduled Tribes. Then there regional differences — Ladakh, for example, has no SC population but a significant tribal population.
“Laws related to land may also need looking into. There are issues related to business rules which have to be framed for both Union territories. There are issues related to employment, as anyone can now apply for a job here. The Civil Services Decentralisation Act may require changes,” the official said. Section 96 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act facilitates this, giving one year to bring about changes required in the laws.
In relation to Ladakh, sources said that though all central laws have been extended to the region, regulations have to be framed.
Apart from this, there are cosmetic changes that would have to brought in the statute in the central laws that mention applicability across the country but not to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the sources said.
The three committees on personnel, finance and administrative matters in terms of division between the two UTs of J&K and Ladakh are said to have completed their work. “Because the decision came in August, the administration is engaged in mid-year financial restructuring, which is proving to be a massive bureaucratic exercise. It has to go to Parliament for approval,” the official said.
While the total budget for Union territories is Rs 7,500 crore, the budget for Jammu and Kashmir is more than Rs 90,000 crore. This could also necessitate continuation of the Kashmir division in the Union home ministry, sources said.