Jharkhand governor returns 1932-based domicile bill back to Soren govt - Hindustan Times
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Jharkhand governor returns 1932-based domicile bill back to Soren govt

Jan 29, 2023 10:03 PM IST

Governor Ramesh Bais returned the Bill back to the government for reconsideration, underlining that the government needs to review the legality of the bill and frame it as per the constitutional norms and court rulings.

RANCHI: Jharkhand governor Ramesh Bais on Sunday sent the ‘1932 Khatiyan Bill’ back to the Hemant Soren government for reconsideration, describing it to be violative of Article 16 of the Constitution and court rulings, a development that could lead to a further showdown between the state government and Raj Bhawan.

Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais. (PTI)
Jharkhand Governor Ramesh Bais. (PTI)

The state government at a special session on November 11, 2022, had passed the “Jharkhand definition of local persons and for extending the consequential, social, cultural and other benefits to such local persons Bill, 2022”, popularly known as the 1932 Khatiyan Bill.

As per the bill, only those who have their, or names of their ancestors, in the Khatiyan (land records) of 1932 or before will be considered as a local inhabitant of Jharkhand and only they would be entitled to grade 3 and 4 jobs in the state.

As per the Bill provisions, the new law would come into effect only after the Centre includes it in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. A law in the Ninth Schedule is shielded from judicial review. The state government had sent the Bill to Raj Bhawan for its assent and forwarded it to the Centre for its inclusion in the ninth schedule.

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Governor Ramesh Bais, however, returned the Bill back to the government for reconsideration, underlining that the government needs to review the legality of the bill and frame it as per the constitutional norms and court rulings.

“...During the review of the Bill, it has been established that Article 16 (of the Constitution) guarantees equal rights to all in matters of employment. Article 16 (3) of the Constitution empowers only the Parliament to frame laws on matters of employment and under Article 35 (A) only it can impose any restriction or provide reservation for the same. This power is not bestowed on any legislative assembly. In Narsimha Rao & Others Vs State of Andhra Pradesh case, the Supreme Court had reiterated that only the Parliament has the power to introduce reservations in employment. Therefore, this Bill violates constitutional provisions and is against SC rulings,” Raj Bhawan said in a statement.

“In Jharkhand, tribal areas fall under Schedule V (of the Constitution). A constitutional bench in the past had shot down the law to provide 100 per cent jobs for the locals in the scheduled districts, terming even the power of the Governor to do so was violative of Article 16. In Satyajeet Kumar Vs State of Jharkhand case, the Supreme Court had ruled against reserving 100 per cent jobs for locals in the scheduled districts,” it added.

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Substantiating his arguments for returning the Bill, the governor also underlined the objections raised by the state law department against it. “The provisions of the Bills would violate the fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 14,15 and 16(2) of the Constitution. It would also be violative of Article 13 and generate unnecessary controversy,” the statement said citing the law department’s observations.

The Raj Bhawan officials said in light of the above facts, the Bill has been returned to the state government for reconsideration with a suggestion to get the legality of the Bill reviewed and make it in consonance with the Constitutional provisions and court rulings.

The development is set to further strain the relationship between the state government and the Raj Bhawan, which has already tanked over a host of issues in the past few months, especially over the delay in the decision of the Governor on the ECI recommendation over the controversy surrounding the mining lease of the chief minister.

The 1932 Khatiyan Bill has been described as a political game changer in the upcoming elections by the ruling dispensation, especially by Soren’s party JMM, chief minister Hemant Soren has been on ‘Khatiyan Johar Yatra’ since last month, touring every district showcasing the government’s achievements.

Reacting to the development, JMM principal general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said, “We would speak over it after discussion with the party leadership.”

Though the opposition BJP and its ally AJSU Party had supported the Bill in the house, they have described the move of the state government as diversionary from its ‘failures’ as the Bill won’t stand legal scrutiny.

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