In what could be described as an embarrassing moment for the Jammu and Kashmir coalition government, its major coalition partner - PDP's legislators, including its ministers - helped opposition National Conference to pass a Private Member Bill to amend Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Permanent Resident Certificate (Procedure) Act, 1963.
Despite resistance by the treasury benches, particularly by Congress MLAs and ministers, the legislative assembly on Tuesday passed a bill to amend the Jammu and Kashmir grant of Permanent Resident Certificate.
The bill to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Permanent Resident Certificate (Procedure) Act, 1963 (LA Private Members' Bill No 17 of 2005) was moved by NC MLA Dr Mehboob Beg. He has sought that in case of fake Permanent State Subject Certificates, if proved in the court of law, the amount of fine should be increased from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh, while imprisonment should also be raised from six months to at least two years.
During the second session sitting of the legislative assembly, Minister of State for Revenue and Law, on behalf of the chief minister, initially opposed the bill. Following this, Deputy Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, on chair, initiated the process for a voice vote.
However, former minister for finance, law and planning and senior PDP MLA Muzaffar Hussain Baig, who made his maiden presence in the ongoing budget session in the legislative assembly, stood and spoke in favour of the bill proposed by the NC.
Baig requested the chair that 'during the voice voting, the number of members opposing the bill seemed to be less than the number supporting the bill, and therefore the members should vote as per what their consciences says'.
However, when deputy speaker asked the members to raise their hand or stand in favour of the bill, it was an unusual scene with PDP legislators, including senior party ministers Abdul Aziz Zargar and Qazi Mohammad Afzal standing along with NC MLAs.
However, former minister for tourism and PDP MLA Ghulam Hassan Mir and another PDP MLA Sarfaraz Khan abstained from voting.
Legislative Assembly speaker Tara Chand and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad were not present in the House when the Private Member Bill introduced by opposition NC was passed, thereby indicating a major political controversy in offing.