Adopting new mechanism for issuance of PRCs remains least priority for Govt

Recommendations of HLC gathering dust in Revenue Deptt
Existing procedure creating immense difficulties for people

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, June 11: Adopting new mechanism for issuance of Permanent Resident Certificates (PRCs) has remained a least priority for the Government even after strong recommendations from a High-Level Committee as a result of which there is no end to the immense difficulties being faced by the people across the State.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that ‘competent authority’ to issue the Permanent Resident Certificate has been defined under the Sub-Section (b) of the Section 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Permanent Resident Certificate (Procedure) Act, 1963 and vide SRO-328 dated July 10, 1974, the Revenue Department appointed every Deputy Commissioner to be the ‘competent authority’ for the grant of PRCs.
Subsequently, the Revenue Department started the practice of vesting powers as ‘competent authority’ individually by name to the Sub-Divisional Magistrates and Assistant Commissioners Revenue and this procedure is still in vogue in the State although the same is leading to huge delay in the issuance of the PRCs.
“Many a time the vesting of powers by name through formal SRO takes months together and in the meanwhile the concerned officers get transferred and again the cycle of vesting power to the new incumbent is initiated”, sources said.
Keeping in view the delay in issuance of PRCs due to designation of competent authorities by name by the Revenue Department, a proposal for appointment of SDMs and ACRs as competent authorities by designation and not by name was forwarded to the Revenue Department in the month of August 2016 with the mention that new mechanism will help in minimising the sufferings of the people.
“However, this proposal was never discussed at the highest level in the Government despite the fact that the prevailing mechanism is only increasing the hardships of the people instead of providing them any sort of succour”, sources said.
This issue was also deliberated by a High-Level Committee headed by Financial Commissioner Revenue, which was constituted to suggest measures to streamline the functioning of the Revenue Department, and accordingly the Committee in its report submitted in the month of March this year put weight behind the proposal prepared way back in 2016.
“Delays in issuance of the PRCs due to appointment of ‘competent authorities’ by name was against the spirit of the Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act wherein the outer limit for issuance of PRCs is 30 days only”, the committee has mentioned in its report, adding “there is an urgent need for notifying all the ADCs, SDMs and ACRs as ‘competent authorities’ under the J&K Permanent Resident Certificate (Procedure) Act, 1963 by designation once and for all by issuance of a formal SRO”.
The committee has even mentioned that the jurisdiction of the SDMs shall be the respective Sub-Divisions whereas the jurisdiction of the ADCs and ACRs could be determined by the respective Deputy Commissioners in the area falling outside the jurisdiction of various Sub-Divisions of the district.
However, despite lapse of considerable period of time neither the proposal submitted in August 2016 has been cleared nor recommendations of the Financial Commissioner Revenue headed committee have been acted upon by the Revenue Department, sources disclosed, adding “at least Revenue Department should have taken up the recommendations of the committee with the Chief Secretary for deliberations and final decision”.
“What is the fun of constituting committees for examining important issues if their reports are not to be taken seriously”, sources wondered, adding “the inaction on the proposal of 2016 and recommendations of committee clearly indicates that Revenue Department doesn’t want to bring an end to the sufferings of the people”.
Even no formal order has so far been issued to the PRCs issuance authorities asking them not to insist on the unnecessary documents instead of those prescribed under Rule 3 of the J&K Grant of Permanent Resident Certificate (Procedure) Rules, sources further said.
It is pertinent to mention here that EXCELSIOR in its edition dated March 24, 2019 had expressed apprehension about prompt action on the recommendations of the committee on the ground that in Revenue Department important matters are generally confined to official files only.