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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Govt tweaks J&K laws to effect 10% reservation for EWS people

The Cabinet has cleared an ordinance providing 10% quota for poor in Jammu and Kashmir, besides ensuring 3% quota for people living near international border.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2019 23:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Finance minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media after a cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Thursday.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley addresses the media after a cabinet meeting in New Delhi on Thursday.(ANI/Twitter)

The Union cabinet on Thursday rolled out 10% reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) in educational institutions and government jobs in Jammu and Kashmir and approved the benefit of promotion in service to the Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes. The new reservations will come in addition to existing quotas in the state.

The Centre also announced an ordinance will be promulgated to bring people residing in areas adjoining the international border within the ambit of reservation on a par with those living in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Control, in a move aimed at reaching out to the Jammu region. The Union home ministry said there had been no change in respect of Article 370 or 35A.

National Conference vice-president and former J&K CM Omar Abdullah appealed for a cautious approach and not to cause panic. “Why is social media linking this order to 35A? It’s about extending reservation. My lawyers tell me from the initial reading of it that it has no bearing on 35A at all. Please take a deep breath & ask experts before jumping to conclusions,” he tweeted.

In another tweet, he said, “Please don’t rush to tweet without verifying what has been amended. From this tweet it is very clear you are not sure. I understand the amendment is about giving people near IB same reservations as people near LoC/ALC. Please check & hold back tweets till then. Don’t cause panic.”

There was widespread apprehension that the government might tweak Article 35A, the constitutional provision that allows the state assembly to define permanent residents of J&K.

The Union cabinet, which cleared a host of proposals ahead of the imminent announcement of the Lok Sabha election schedule, approved “the proposal of Jammu & Kashmir Government regarding amendment to the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) 0rder, 1954 by way of the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2019,” finance minister Arun Jaitley told a press conference.

“It will serve the purpose of application of relevant provisions of the Constitution of India, as amended through the Constitution (Seventy Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995 and Constitution (One Hundred arid third Amendment) Act, 2019 for Jammu and Kashmir, by issuing the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Amendment Order, 2019 by the President under clause (1) of Article 370,” a government release later added.

The government had brought a new constitutional amendment in the winter session of Parliament to benefit the poor section of the population not covered under any of the existing quotas. The legislation had received widespread political support and was applied across the country except in J&K. Now, with the extension of the rule to J&K, the state’s poor people will be eligible for the quota.

The Centre’s new ordinance, to bring people residing near the international border on a par with those living close to the Actual Line of Control (ALoC) for the benefit of reservation, will amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004.

The move is aimed to help people from the Jammu region, a key vote bank for the BJP in the state.

“Due to cross border tensions, people living alongside International Border suffer from socio-economic and educational backwardness. Shelling from across the border often compels these residents to move to safer places and is adversely impacting their education as schools Educational Institutions remain closed for long periods,” a government release said.

Jaitley maintained that “because of the provisioning of Article 370, all laws passed by the Centre including constitutional changes have to be approved by the assembly so that they could be applied in the state. Provisions with regard to reservations for the SCs, STs and OBCs which were brought in 1993 through the 97th amendment have not been made applicable to the state till today. With the consent of the governor, the same has been made applicable by amending the 1954 constitutional order.”

State BJP president Ravinder Raina hailed the Union government for extending the new quota to J&K.