Cong submits report on 73rd Amendment to NC

Neeraj Rohmetra
JAMMU, Jan 14: Report of two high level panels constituted by the Congress party to study the provisions of the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India, which could be incorporated in the State Panchayati Raj Act have been handed over to National Conference (NC) in the Co-ordination Committee (CC) meeting held here today.
The meeting, which lasted around 45 minutes, was held under the chairmanship of the JKPCC (I) president and CC chairman Saif-ud-Din Soz. While the Congress party was represented by JKPCC (I) president, Saif-ud-Din Soz, Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, the National Conference was represented by Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Ali Mohammad Sagar and former Minister, Choudhary Mohamad Ramzan. Senior congress leader and former Deputy Chief Minister, Mangat Ram Sharma couldn’t attend the meeting due to some personal engagement.
“The report submitted by the Congress panels dwells in detail over the provisions of the 73rd Amendments which according to the party are highly beneficial to the State and can be incorporated into the State’s own Panchayati Raj Act”, Prof Soz told EXCELSIOR.
“The Committee also discussed threadbare the issue of security of Sarpanchs and Panchs across the State and all steps are being initiated to ensure their safety”, he added.
The Reports were also accompanied by a letter from the Congress party to Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah pertaining to submission of reports. It was decided that these recommendations would be passed on to the Chief Minister, who is also NC Working President. “The reports would be handed over the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, who would then come out with proposal for appropriate amendments in the State Act”, sources said.
“While accepting the reports, the National Conference Ministers stated that they would need some time to go through the reports and shall came back to the same forum after building a consensus on the issue within their party”, sources said, adding, “it was also mutually agreed upon by both the coalition partners to hold a special meeting soon over the issue of proposed amendments”.
“There was also a sense of urgency among the coalition partners over the early holding of Block Development Council (BDC) polls, which had got delayed due to differences among them. The NC core-Committee will also review the reports and thereafter suggest amendments required to be incorporated in the Sate Panchayati Raj Act”, sources further added.
Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah has also time and again expressed his desire for holding of early BDC polls after introducing the necessary amendments
The members also resolved that once the question of amendments to the Panchayat Act of the State was decided, the schedule for holding the elections to the Block Development Council (BDC) and District Development Board (DDBs) in the Panchayat system would be mutually decided.
“As far as the issue of Urban Local Bodies is concerned, it was agreed that the State Election Department would conduct the entire exercise, which is pre-requisite for conducting of these polls. Immediately after he exercise gets over, the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) would issue the necessary notification for conduct of these polls”, sources asserted.
Condemning the act of the killing of Sarpanch, Habibulah Mir at Bomai (Sopore), the Co-ordination Committee asserted that the NC-Congress Coalition Government would do everything possible to make Sarpanch and Panchs feel secure and safe. “During the meeting of Unified Command, the law enforcing agencies ensured that network would be strengthened for ensuring flawless safety environment for Sarpanchs and Panchs”, Prof Soz informed the Committee.
The Committee urged the Sarpanchs and Panchs not to take the threats of disruptionists seriously as the vast majority of the people had given their mandate to them for strengthening development process and democratic polity at the grass roots level.
The Committee also reiterated its stand that the Sarpanchs and Panchs would be provided honorarium and insurance cover by the Coalition Government. Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah had also written a letter to the Union Rural Development Minister for grant from Central Government to fulfill this demand. “Further, I have also already taken up this matter at different levels and would also follow it further vigorously”, Prof Soz told the Committee.
Some members of the Congress party also expressed their concern over the delay in appointing members of the Public Service Commission as was agreed earlier in the same forum. Both Congress and National Conference are to submit two names respectively, who shall be made members of the Public Service Commission.
“Further, it was also decided that the Backward Class Commission (BCC) be made fully functional as the body had been rendered defunct due to the absence of members required for the quorum”, sources emphasized.
The incorporation of 73rd Amendment into the J&K’s Panchayati Raj Act had become a bone of contention between the ruling alliance partners with NC vociferously opposing the move stating that the existing State Act was powerful enough. On the other hand, Congress pressed for the incorporation of all good provisions of the amendment especially the reservation for Schedule Castes, Schedule Tribes and women in the BDC polls, which was missing in the State Act.
After pressure from the Congress, the NC had to agree to postpone the already announced BDC polls in October, 2012. The State Cabinet had also approved an ordinance seeking cancellation of notification regarding holding of BDC polls.
Earlier, Congress had formed two panels headed by GA Mir, former Minister and sitting MLA and Ravinder Sharma, MLC (for Kashmir and Jammu regions respectively) to recommend amendments required in the State Panchayati Raj Act to make it at par with the provisions of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment of the Government of India.
The two Groups studied various models of Panchayati Raj Act including those of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, where the Panchayats enjoyed immense powers.

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