Srinagar: The Modi government has introduced significant changes to existing legislations of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA).
The PSA, a law that allows detention of individuals without trial for upto two years, has been in the news in 2019 and in the beginning of this year after three former CMs of Jammu and Kashmir — Omar Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — were detained under it.
While PSA charges against Farooq and Omar have been revoked, Mehbooba still continues to be detained under the law.
Besides the PSA, the central government has repealed a Section of the State’s Legislature Members’ Pension Act, 1984, thereby withdrawing privileges provided to the former CMs of the erstwhile state.
The central government Tuesday night passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of State Laws) Order, 2020, through which Section 3A of the State Legislature Members’ Pension Act was repealed.
The former CMs were entitled to free furnished accommodation, expenditure to the limit of Rs 35,000 per annum for furnishing of their accommodation, free telephone calls up to the value of Rs 48,000 per annum, free electricity to the extent of Rs 1,500 per month, medical services and fuel for vehicles, among other benefits.
Changes in the PSA
In the PSA, the government has omitted the proviso of Section 10, which mandated that detainees, who are permanent residents of J&K, shall not be lodged in jails outside the erstwhile state. This Section was inserted in the law in 2002 .
“… the administration would at times send PSA detainees outside the state giving court reasons such as overcrowding in J&K jails. Foreigners, like militants from Pakistan or Afghanistan, have been in the past sent to jails outside J&K. Now with omission of the proviso, J&K residents can now be sent outside J&K,” said senior advocate Altaf Khan.
Further, the central government has amended Section 14 of the PSA. Under this Section, a committee can be constituted to deal with all matters related to the PSA.
Kashmir-based legal experts called it a move to restrict the judiciary’s role in dealing with matters related to the PSA.
So far, the J&K administration under Section 14 of the PSA could constitute an advisory committee, comprising a chairman who is or has been a high court judge, two members “who are, have been or qualified to be appointed as judges in high court”.
The chairman and the members were so far appointed by the government (Home Department) in consultation with the chief justice of the high court.
But, according to the new order, a Search-cum-Selection Committee, consisting of chief secretary and administrative secretaries of the Home and Law Department, will select the committee from now on.
“Provided that no sitting Judge of the High Court or the sitting District and Sessions Judge shall be appointed as Chairman or Member of the Board except in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court,” the new order stated.
The Modi government also redefined domicile for government jobs through Tuesday’s order.
Other significant changes include those made to laws governing education, religious properties under Waqf board, migration and sale of properties due to migration.
Migrants can now apply for jobs in J&K
The new order stated migrants are now eligible to apply for government jobs in the union territory. Migrants registered by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner will now be eligible to apply for a domicile certificate to avail government jobs.
The government has also directed the J&K authorities to prepare the details of immovable property of migrants, which might have been sold “under distress” (security concerns) and asked the administration to take appropriate action to evict unauthorised occupants from such properties.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.