Rajya Sabha passes J-K reservation and reorganisation amendment bills to give rights to those facing ‘injustice’

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NEW DELHI:┬áThe Rajya Sabha on Monday passed unanimously the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 with voice vote amending key laws in the Union Territory aimed at providing “rights to those who faced injustice”.

The significant legislative move on the sixth day of the Parliament’s Winter Session witnessed various Opposition leaders raising issues to reinstate the statehood of the erstwhile state and announce elections there.

Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 aimed at providing “rights to those who faced injustice” and were deprived of their rights in the Union Territory. Both the bills were passed last week by the Lok Sabha. The Bills were jointly discussed a few hours after the Supreme Court passed a judgement upholding the constitutional validity of the Executive Order abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution and scrapping statehood for Jammu and Kashmir.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on the two Jammu and Kashmir Bills, Union Minister Amit Shah said this is an important day as both these Bills will be passed and also because this will be written in golden letters in the history of Jammu and Kashmir and India.

“Today, Supreme Court upheld the intention behind Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganisation) Bill, 2019, its constitutional validity and the process.”
Shah said one of the Bills seeks to represent those who became refugees in their own country and also reserves one seat in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly for people who have been displaced from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Shah said several questions were raised even the day before yesterday. “In Lok Sabha, it was said that the Bill is pending and is being brought in haste. Supreme Court will do justice and we should wait for it. All these stands were not for justice but to halt the decisions taken by PM Modi.”

“SC accepted that Article 370 was a temporary provision. If Article 370 was so fair, so needful, then why would Nehru ji use the word temporary in front of it? Those who say that Article 370 is permanent are insulting the intention of the Constituent Assembly and the Constitution…Supreme Court has said that the said Article 370 was a temporary provision, which means that this claim of the petitioner that Article 370 can never be removed, has been completely rejected by the Supreme Court…,” Shah added.

The Minister said Supreme Court also accepted that it is not right to challenge the announcements of Governor’s rule and President’s rule.”When the temporary provision was made, the question arose that if it is temporary then how will it be removed? So a provision was inserted inside Article 373 that the President can amend Section 370, ban it and can also take it completely out of the Constitution…”

The Home Minister said after the delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir to redraw assembly and parliamentary constituencies, there will be 43 assembly seats in Jammu region — up from present 37 — and 47 in Kashmir Valley, up from 46.

Shah said 24 seats have been reserved in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. “I am saying this again Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir is ours and no one can take it from us…”

Participating in the debate, Congress MP Rajani Ashokrao Patil said her party contributed a lot for Jammu and Kashmir development and that “it’s because of Pandit Nehru that the Union Territory is part of India”.

She also raised issue to reinstate the statehood of the erstwhile state and announce election there. “I want to remind Home Minister to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It has been four years since Article 370 was abrogated, and the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir has not been reinstated. I want to remind the Union Home Minister to announce elections in Jammu and Kashmir. Until Jammu and Kashmir gets back its statehood, the idea of India will not be achieved,” Patil said.

IUML legislator Abdul Wahab said he is “supporting” as well as “opposing” the two bils.

Nationalist Congress Party MP Fauzia Khan raised issue of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, saying “militancy is that cancer that is eating away the beauty of Kashmir”.

BJP MP Gulam Ali said that these bills will benefit the people of Kashmir and that the region is developing because of the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra. He thanked Home Minister Shah for the development in Kashmir, saying “militancy in Kashmir has come down.”
The MP also thanked the Supreme Court for upholding the abrogation of Article 370.

Congress MP Syed Nasir Hussain said it is because of Nehru that Kashmir is now a part of India.

YSRCP MP V. Vijayasai Reddy supported both the Bills and expressed the support of the party and Jagan Mohan Reddy for the same.

Reddy said “it was Nehruvian pseudo-secularism that prevented the Kashmir issue from being resolved” and highlighted Article 370 as “another blunder, as well as not taking back Kashmir during the Second War with Pakistan.” He took a dig at the Congress and pointed that the party could have “taken back Kashmir during the signing of the Shimla Declaration post the Bangladesh War.”

Reddy said Home Minister Shah took the right steps to undo the wrong steps of the Congress government, and offered a suggestion, saying that 24 seats are not going for election in PoK, and that members should be nominated for these seats. He also requests an increase of cash relief given to migrants.

Dravina Munnetra Kazhagam MP Tiruchi Siva clarified in the House that “it doesn’t need to be given other colour, we want to achieve rights of the states within the framework of the Indian Constitution.”

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also sought question pointing when the government will announce election in Jammu and Kashmir so that the “voice of the people there can be raised in the Assembly there”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 is aimed at amending the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004. The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004 provided reservation in jobs and admission in professional institutions to Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), and other socially and educationally backward classes.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to amend the 2019 Act and provide representation in the Legislative Assembly to the Kashmiri Migrants and displaced persons from the PoK. It seeks to nominate two members from the Kashmiri migrant community and one person representing the displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to the Legislative Assembly.

The amendment Bill proposes to increase the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly to 90 from 83.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to reserve seats for the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. It seeks to insert new sections 15A and 15B in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 for the Lieutenant Governor to nominate not more than two members, one of whom shall be a woman, from the community of “Kashmiri Migrants” and one Member from “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir”, to the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly. (ANI)

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