Explained: Everything you need to know about J&K’s new domicile law

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Ground Report, April 4 2020:
The Home Ministry changed the recruitment rules under the Domicile Act, a day after there was strong opposition from various political parties and youths to restrict group jobs in union territory Jammu and Kashmir to group four. In the revised order issued late evening, residents here will get the benefit of domicile in all categories of jobs. The order restricting Domicile to Group-4 jobs has now been abolished. This order will come into force with immediate effect.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a new order amending the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralization and Recruitment) Act. It states that Group 4 (25500) mentioned in section three (a) has been removed. Any post has been added in its place. That is, now the people of the state will get opportunities for any government post.

As per the official gazette issued on April 1, 138 laws were amended. The Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Act has also been amended to include the domicile category, according to which those living here for 15 years will be considered in this category. Under the All India Service, children of those serving up to 10 years have also been placed in this category. Also, anyone who has studied here for seven years or has given 10th or 12th examination from here will also fall in the category of Domicile. All the people registered with Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrant) will also be in this category.

After the removal of Articles 370 and 35A, in view of the concerns of the people of land and jobs, the Center had announced that the Domicile Act will be implemented soon. Almost all political parties and social organizations including the BJP also raised their voice for this. It is to be known that only the people had the right to work under the special status of the state. Also, no one could buy and sell land here. After the removal of Article 370, this right was taken away from the residents here.

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Central government officials and employees will continue to get benefits

Employees of Central Government, All India Service, Public Enterprises, Central Government Autonomous Institutions, Banks, Central Universities and Central Government Registered Research Institutes, who have served in the State for 10 years, will continue to get the benefit of Domicile. Children who fulfill this eligibility or who live outside the union territory for employment, business or other business reasons, but if their parents fulfill any of the conditions, they will also get the benefit.

Political party strongly react against domicile law

The local unit of the BJP, as well as the party’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), raised its concerns with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other members of the national leadership.

Former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah had described it “as an insult being heaped on injury”.

“Talk about suspect timing. At a time when all our efforts and attention should be focused on the COVID-19 outbreak, the government slips in a new domicile law for J&K. Insult is heaped on injury when we see the law offers none of the protections promised,” Mr Abdullah tweeted.

The notification was also criticised by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which warned the new law would give rise to “massive problems for residents of J&K”.

“The domicile law, as it appears, is not only trying to shake the boundaries of an already existing state, but it is also trying to give rise to massive problems for residents of J&K,” the party said on Twitter.

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J&K Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah recently in Delhi to discuss domicile laws, said, “This order in its entirety is a casual attempt, cosmetic in nature, to hoodwink the people of J&K who genuinely believed that post October 31, 2019, their rights and privileges in the matter of employment and other rights would remain as it had been.”

No pension benefits to ex-CMs

The notification scraps all pension benefits such as car, driver, accommodation, phones, electricity, medical facilities and rent-free accommodation to former J&K Chief Ministers.

The order says the domiciles will be eligible “for the purposes of appointment to any post carrying a pay scale of not more than Level 4.” The Level 4 post comprises positions such as gardeners, barbers, office peons and waterman and the highest rank in the category is that of a junior assistant.

Vacancies in posts

According to the MHA’s reply to a parliamentary panel on February 18, there are over 84,000 vacancies in J&K, of which 22,078 pertain to Class IV employees, 54,375 to non-gazetted and 7,552 at the Gazetted level.

The order defines a domicile as one “who has resided for a period of 15 years in the UT of J&K or has studied for a period of seven years and appeared in Class 10th /12th examination in an educational institution located in the UT of J&K or who is registered as a migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner (Migrants).’’

Changes to PSA

The MHA order has also made amendments to the PSA, 1978. It changes the criteria for appointing the PSA advisory board on the recommendation of a search committee headed by the Chief Secretary instead of the Chief Justice of the J&K High Court. It also bars sitting High Court judges to be made part of the board without the Chief justice’s consultation.

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The advisory board has a crucial role to play in release of detenus under the PSA. The order also scraps a clause that dealt with the power to regulate place and conditions of detention.

There are 12 States, including Himachal Pradesh, where provisions of special status under Article 371 apply. The provisions pertain to regulation of ownership and transfer of land in order to conserve the limited resources available for development and to ensure that the State preserves its unique identity. After J&K was made a UT, several groups in Jammu expressed concern over losing special status and apprehended losing land and jobs to outsiders.

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