14 territorial constituencies to be notified in each distt
Adequate reservation for women, SCs, STs
JAMMU, Oct 17: To ensure further devolution of powers to the grass root democratic institutions in this Union Territory, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has carried out several amendments in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 for establishment of District Development Councils and District Planning Committees. Moreover, Panchayats and Block Development Councils will exercise several specific functions of more than 15 Government departments in their respective areas.
The amendments have been carried out by way of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Fourth Order, 2020 issued by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla in exercise of powers conferred by Section 96 of the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019.
By way of amendments, the MHA has substituted the District Planning and Development Board with District Development Council and also made provision for establishment of District Planning Committee. For constitution of District Development Council, each district of the Union Territory will be divided into 14 territorial constituencies and accordingly elections will be held for the same.
Each District Development Council will have jurisdiction over the entire district excluding such portions as are included in a Municipality or Municipal Corporation. Each District Development Council will consist of the directly elected members from territorial constituencies in the district, the Members of the Legislative Assembly representing a part or whole of the district whose constituencies lie within the district and the Chairpersons of all Block Development Councils of the district.
In the un-amended Act, the Member of Parliament representing the areas within the district was kept as member of the District Planning and Development Board and there was a provision was nomination of Chairman of the Board by the Government from amongst the members.
However, with the amendments, the Member of Parliament won’t be member of the District Development Council and Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of each Council will be chosen by the members elected from 14 territorial constituencies. Moreover, in case of election or removal of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman only the directly elected members will have the right to vote which means MLAs despite being member of the District Development Council will not have right to vote on this aspect.
In order to give due representation to all sections of the society, the amended Act states that seats to be filed by direct election shall be reserved in the District Development Council for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Not less than one-third of the total number of seats reserved shall be kept for women belonging to the Scheduled Castes or, as the case may be, the Scheduled Tribes.
Moreover, one-third (including the number of seats reserved for women belonging to the SCs and STs) of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election in every District Development Council shall be reserved for women. “The reserved seats shall be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the district”, the amended Act States.
The term of the District Development Council shall be five years except for holding common elections to all the tiers of the Panchayats simultaneously so that all the tiers have co-extensive terms in the district and one third of the total number of seats for the office of Chairperson of District Development Council in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be reserved for women.
In each District Development Council, there will be Standing Committee for Finance, Standing Committee of Development, Standing Committee for Public Works, Standing Committee for Health and Education and Standing Committee for Welfare. Each Committee will consist of such number of members including its Chairperson as decided by the District Development Council so that all other elected members except the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson shall be elected as a member in any of the Standing Committee and the number of members elected to each Standing Committee shall, as far as possible, be equal.
The Standing Committee for Finance will deal with the subjects like finance, accounts, audit, budget, general administration and subjects not allowed to other Standing Committees while as Standing Committee for Development will deal with the development planning, socio-economic planning, agriculture, soil conservation, animal husbandry, minor irrigation, fisheries and small scale industry etc.
Similarly, the Standing Committee for Public Works will deal with public works, housing, spatial planning and environment while as Standing Committee for Health and Education will deal with public health and education. The Standing Committee for Welfare will deal with social welfare, development of women and children and development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Unlike in the un-amended Act, there will be District Planning Committee comprising of Members of Parliament representing the area, Members of Legislature representing the areas within the district, Chairperson of the District Development Council, Chairpersons of the Town Area Committees, Presidents of Municipal Council/Committee, District Development Commissioner, Additional District Development Commissioner, District Statistics and Evaluation Officer and Chief Planning Officer etc. The Member of Parliament representing the area shall be Chairperson of the Committee.
The District Planning Committee will consider and guide the formulation of development programmes for the district and indicate priorities for various schemes and consider issues relating to the speedy development and economic upliftment of the district.
Moreover, the District Planning Committee will function as a working group for formulation of periodic and annual plans for the district and formulate and finalize the plan and non-plan budget for the district.
A provision has also been incorporated in the Act whereby Government may specify from time to time the role of Halqa Panchayats, Block Development Council and District Development Council in respect of the programmes, schemes and activities related to the functions specified in the schedules in order to ensure properly coordinated and effective implementation of such programmes, schemes and activities.
As per the Schedules of the amended Act, the Panchayats and Block Development Councils will exercise several specific functions of more than 15 Government departments in their respective areas.
Moreover, a new Chapter has been inserted in the Act by the Ministry of Home Affairs whereby there will be Ward Majlis and Halqa Majlis in each Panchayat for specific purpose.
The Ward Majlis will render assistance to the Panchayat in collection and compilation of details required for formulation of development plans; generate proposals and fix priority of development schemes and programmes; suggest location of public utilities, amenities and services like street lights, community water taps, public wells, public sanitation units and irrigation facilities and promote harmony and unity among various groups of people.
Similarly, the Halqa Majlis will approve the plans, programmes and projects for social and economic development in order of priority, identify or select persons as beneficiaries under the poverty alleviation and other programmes, promote literacy, education, health and nutrition, seek clarifications from the Sarpanch and members of the Panchayat about any particular activity, scheme, income and expenditure and to consider and approve the recommendations made by each Ward Majlis.