J&K, Ladakh embrace new identity
Murmu, Mathur take oath as LGs; meet top officers; review situation
* Prez rule in undivided J&K revoked, Central rule to continue in J&K UT
Sanjeev Pargal/Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Oct 31: Two new Union Territories came into existence today with Girish Chandra Murmu and RK Mathur assuming charge as the Lieutenant Governors of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh UTs in Srinagar and Leh respectively even as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs announced that UT of J&K will have its own Goods and Services Tax (GST) while UT of Ladakh will be governed by the Union Territory GST Act.
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The President’s rule imposed in undivided Jammu and Kashmir was revoked this morning following emergence of the two Union Territories, but the Central rule will continue for an indefinite period through the Lieutenant Governor of the UT of J&K, official sources told the Excelsior.
Soon after taking oath as first Lieutenant Governors of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh UTs, Murmu and Mathur immediately got into the act and met top officials of the administration in Srinagar and Leh respectively and reviewed situation, developmental works and other aspects of their UTs.
Murmu discussed about the health care infrastructure and functioning of 108 ambulance service in J&K; need for focus on exploring renewable energy resources to meet gap between demand and supply of electricity; ongoing activities for tourism promotion, providing boost to the agriculture and its allied sectors; to-date position regarding stocking and supply of food and other essential commodities to meet requirement for the winter season. He directed the Secretaries to ensure prompt and efficient delivery of public services to the people.
A gazette notification approved by President Ram Nath Kovind said the Judges of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir of the erstwhile State of J&K holding office will become Judges of the common High Court for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh and all the provisions of the Constitution of India including provisions relating to appointment of Judges of the High Court will be applicable to the Judges of the common High Court.
“The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), with the approval of President, will serve needs of the Union Territory of Ladakh. However, the UPSC will make recruitments only for Group “A” and Group “B” (Gazetted) posts,” the MHA order said.
It added that the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, being a UT with Legislature, will have its own Goods and Services Tax whereas the Union Territory of Ladakh, being a UT without Legislature, will be governed by the Union Territory Goods and Services Act, 2017.
“Those Central Laws, Ordinance and Rules which are applicable to the whole of India except the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, will be made applicable to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” the Order said, adding that certain Central Laws and Rules which were already applicable to erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir will remain in force in the two new Union Territories.
While the Legislative Council has been abolished, the reference to the State ‘Legislature shall be construed as the ‘Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir’, the Centre order said. It may be mentioned here that the Centre has granted 90-seat Assembly to Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory while the UT of Ladakh hasn’t been granted the Assembly but its two districts of Leh and Kargil will continue to have Autonomous Hill Development Councils.
The Home Ministry also announced omission of “permanent residents or hereditary State Subjects”.
“… there are references in the State laws that have been applied to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Union Territory of Ladakh to the expressions ‘permanent residents’ or ‘hereditary State Subjects’…, wherever they occur, shall be omitted,” it said.
The references, by whatever form of words, to the “State of Jammu and Kashmir” or “Jammu and Kashmir” or “State” shall from October 31 be construed as “Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir” or “Union Territory of Ladakh”, as the case may be, it said.
Those who were residents of the princely State of Jammu and Kashmir at the time of the State’s merger with the Union of India and their descendants are called State Subjects and they used to get privileges over land and jobs in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir due to Article 370 and Article 35A.
The then ruler of the princely State, Maharaja Hari Singh, executed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, making it part of the Union of India.
No lawsuit will be maintained for any action taken, including any notification issued or order, rule or appointment made during the period between August 5 and October 31 as these shall be deemed to be valid and operative as if such things had been done or actions taken in accordance with law, according to the notification.
It said any person who has taken an oath or made an affirmation before holding office or position as such under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution or other laws in force in the existing state of J-K immediately before the appointed day shall be deemed to have taken oath or affirmation under the Indian Constitution or law applicable to the two union territories, and shall continue to hold office or position as such till October 31.
“The Jammu and Kashmir Bovine Breeding (Regulation of Production, Sale of Bovine Semen and Artificial Insemination) Act, 2018 (Governor’s Act No. LV of 2018), the Jammu and Kashmir Single Window (Industrial Investment and Business Facilitation) Act, 2018 (Governor’s Act No. X of 2018), the Jammu and Kashmir Metropolitan Region Development Authorities Act, 2018 (Governor’s Act No. XLIX of 2018) and the Jammu and Kashmir National Law University Act, 2018 (Act No. II of 2019) which are applicable to the existing State of Jammu and Kashmir will continue to apply to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh) until altered, repealed or amended by a competent Legislature or other competent authority,” the Notification said.
Meanwhile, stepping into the record books as the first Lieutenant Governors of two new Union Territories, G C Murmu was today sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir and R K Mathur of Ladakh.
Mathur took the oath of office in Leh in the morning and Murmu in Srinagar in the afternoon. Both were administered the oath by Chief Justice of the High Court Gita Mittal.
Mathur, a 1977 batch IAS officer from Tripura and a former Defence Secretary, was sworn in at the Sindhu Sanskriti auditorium in the Ladakh capital.
The function was attended by officials of the Leh and Kargil Hill Councils, Army and paramilitary forces, religious leaders and the general public.
The Chief Justice then flew to Srinagar to administer the oath of office to 59-year-old Murmu at the Raj Bhawan.
Murmu, an IAS officer of 1985 batch from Gujarat, is probably the first official to be appointed Lieutenant Governor while he is still in active service. The Expenditure Secretary was due to retire at the end of the month.
The warrant of appointment of Murmu was read out by Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam. Dr Nirmal Singh, BJP’s Lok Sabha MP Jugal Kishore and Rajya Sabha MP and PDP member Nazir Laway and former Advisors were among the over 250 guests present at the function.
Murmu, who belongs to Odisha, is a Post Graduate in Political Science. He worked closely with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his Additional Principal Secretary during his tenure as the Chief Minister.
Mathur, who turns 66 next month, said a lot of development activity needs to be carried out in border areas.
“Already, the Government is implementing several programmes in the region. The priorities for Ladakh will be set in the new regime in consultation with the public and hill councils,” he said in brief chat with media persons.
Mathur said his experience of working in the backward and border areas in the capacity of the Chief Secretary of Tripura and the Defence Secretary will be useful.
Both the Lieutenant Governors held meetings with the Administrative Secretaries to review situation and development works.
The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir and the Ranbir Penal Code have ceased to exist from today, when the nation celebrates ‘National Unity Day’ to mark the birth anniversary of the country’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who is credited with the merger of over 560 States into the Union of India.
Meanwhile, the President’s rule imposed in undivided Jammu and Kashmir was revoked today following the State’s bifurcation into Union Territories, but the Central rule will continue for an indefinite period through the Lieutenant Governor (LG) in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.
President Ram Nath Kovind issued two separate notifications this morning — the first revoking the President’s rule in undivided Jammu and Kashmir and subsequently, taking over the control of the administration of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, which will be controlled through the LG now.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by clause (2) of Article 356 of the Constitution, I, Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, hereby revoke the proclamation issued by me under the said Article on 19th December, 2018 in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir,” the first notification said.
In the second notification, Kovind said Article 356 of the Constitution, under which President’s rule was imposed in a State, was not applicable to the UTs and the provision in case of failure of the Constitutional machinery with regard to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, which has a Legislature, was governed by section 73 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.
Section 73 of the Act says in case of failure of the constitutional machinery — if the president, on receipt of a report from the LG of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, is satisfied (a) that a situation has arisen in which the administration of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of this Act; or (b) that for the proper administration of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, it is necessary or expedient to do so, the President may, by order, suspend the operation of all or any of the provisions of this Act for such period as he thinks fit and make such incidental and consequential provisions as may appear to be necessary or expedient for administering the UT of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
The President, in the notification, said he had received a report from the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir that the administration of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.
“In order to prevent any Constitutional and administrative vacuum, it is necessary to invoke section 73 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 for the proper administration of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
The President said after considering the Governor’s report and other information, he was satisfied that a situation had arisen in which the administration of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir could not be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act.
“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 73 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, read with Articles 239 and 239A of the Constitution, and of all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I hereby proclaim that I — (a) assume to myself as President of India all functions of the Government of UT of Jammu and Kashmir and all powers vested in or exercisable by the LG of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir; (b) declare that the powers of the Legislature or Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament,” the notification issued by the President said.
Kovind also used the incidental and consequential provisions, which were necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of this proclamation.
“In exercise of the functions and powers assumed to myself by virtue of clause (a) of this Proclamation, it shall be lawful for me as President of India to act to such extent as I think fit through the LG for administering the UT of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the JK Reorganisation Act, 2019,” the notification said.
The Central rule was first imposed in Jammu and Kashmir in June 2018, after the resignation of the then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew support to the State Government led by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The first Central rule as “Governor’s rule” continued for six months.
After the six-month period, President’s rule was imposed for the next six months, which was subsequently extended with the approval of Parliament.
Meanwhile, J&K UT Lieutenant Governor today issued his first order directing that the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Government Business Rules which were applicable to the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir shall apply to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir for transaction of the Government business subject to the modification that any reference to the Governor and the Chief Minister shall be construed as reference to the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
PDP MP attends oath ceremony
After the meeting of two senior PDP leaders and former Ministers Muzaffar Hussain Baig and Altaf Bukhari with European Union Parliamentarians in New Delhi recently, another PDP leader and Rajya Sabha member Nazir Ahmad Laway today attended the oath ceremony of Lieutenant Governor of J&K Union Territory Girish Chandra Murmu in Srinagar.
There are five MPs in Kashmir division including three Lok Sabha and two Rajya Sabha members.
Only Laway attended the oath ceremony while his party colleague and another Rajya Sabha member Fayaz Ahmad Mir stayed away.
Of three Lok Sabha members of National Conference, Dr Farooq Abdullah is under detention since August 5 while Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi didn’t attend the oath ceremony.
PDP leaders Muzaffar Baig and Altaf Bukhari had attended European Union MPs lunch hosted by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in New Delhi the other day.
3 Advisors likely to continue
Three former Advisors, who were posted with former Governor Satya Pal Malik, are likely to continue in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory but their appointment orders will have to be issued afresh.
Authoritative sources told the Excelsior that KK Sharma, K Skandan and Farooq Khan are likely to be appointed as Advisors to Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu.
However, K Vijay Kumar, Incharge Home Department, is unlikely to be appointed as the Advisor again.
Fifth Advisor Khurshid Ganai was yet to make up his mind, sources said.
It may be mentioned here that all five Advisors posted with Malik had ceased to exist after his transfer to Goa.