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Jharkhand Cabinet approves draft Bill with 1932 as cut-off year for domicile

Sources said the Bills will be introduced in the Assembly and, after the passage of both, the state government will send them to the Centre (apart from the Governor), with a proposal seeking an amendment placing the two laws in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to avoid judicial scrutiny.

Supporters greet CM Hemant Soren after the decision to implement 1932 Domicile Policy, in Ranchi, Wednesday. (PTI)

THE Jharkhand Cabinet Wednesday approved the draft ‘Local Resident of Jharkhand Bill’ of 2022, keeping 1932 as the cut-off year for “proof of land records” for defining a local. The second draft legislative proposal approved by the Cabinet seeks to increase reservation from the current 50% to 67% in Jharkhand.

Sources said the Bills will be introduced in the Assembly and, after the passage of both, the state government will send them to the Centre (apart from the Governor), with a proposal seeking an amendment placing the two laws in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to avoid judicial scrutiny.

The move comes barely a week after Chief Minister Hemant Soren stirred up the issue of Jharkhand’s domicile policy during a trust vote called by him.

Government sources said that those who don’t possess land, or do not have their or their families name in the 1932 Khatiyan (proof of a person’s land document), the concerned Gram Sabhas will validate them.

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Incidentally, just six months ago, the Jharkhand government had indicated that the year 1932 will not be the only basis for domicile.

A top-level source said: “The Hemant Soren government wants to put the onus on the BJP government to bring a constitutional amendment to include the Local Resident of Jharkhand Bill of 2022 in the Ninth Schedule to keep it out of judicial review. It was done keeping in mind the massive protests and numerous litigations challenging the domicile policy brought out during the Babulal Marandi government, which was based on the last survey conducted, including 1932 as the cut-off date.”

The Cabinet brief related to this Bill reads: “Jharkhand ke sthaniya niwasi ki parivasa awem pehchaan hetu, Jharkhand ke sthaniya vyaktiyon ki paribhasha aur parinami samajik sanskritik aur anya laabho ko aise sthaniya vyaktiyon tak vistarit karne ke liye vidheyak 2022 ke gathan ki swikriti di gayi (To define the Local Resident of Jharkhand and for extending the consequential, social, cultural and other benefits to such local persons, the formation of the Bill of 2022 has been approved).”

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The BJP government led by Raghubar Das had notified a “relaxed domicile policy” in 2016, mentioning six ways in which one could be treated as domicile of the state. Experts had called the policy “flawed” as it did not give priority to the people from tribal communities.

The second draft Bill, on reservation, proposes replacing the existing quota of 26% for STs, 10% for SCs and and 14% for OBCs. Cabinet Secretary Vandana Dadel said: “As per the Bill, reservation for STs will be increased to 28%, for OBCs to 27%, and STs to 12%.”

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This would take the total reservation beyond the 50% quota, which is why the state is set to seek a Central amendment.

Questions around the definition of a “Jharkhandi” had led to the resignation of the state’s first chief minister, Babulal Marandi, in 2002, with successive governments thereafter steering clear of the issue. Marandi thought it was necessary to define a “Jharkhandi” in order to provide various benefits, including government jobs, to local people, and made 1932 as the cut-off year for proof of land records. It triggered widespread protests involving those people, especially non-tribals, who had migrated to Jharkhand at a later stage.

After the JMM-led coalition government, headed by Hemant Soren, assumed office in December 2019, JMM president Shibu Soren said that 1932 Khatiyan should be made the cut-off year to formulate the “Sthaniya Niti (domicile policy)”.

First published on: 15-09-2022 at 12:43:59 am
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