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Regional Autonomy Committee Report (Excerpts)

Jammu, April 13, 1999

1. The foregoing discussion leads this Committee to conclude that there is a strong case for the decentralisation of political and economic power which can be achieved through autonomy of the regions in the State. In this regard two objectives of ensuring the self-governance and rapid human development are central to the concept of autonomy. However, before any specific recommendations are made in this regard, it is relevant to define the regions within the State. This issue is basic to the political and economic empowerment of the people.

Mapping The Regions

1. The mapping of regions in Jammu & Kashmir is a complex task. The tribal attack from Pakistan which resulted in a part of the State going into the occupation of that country has further added to the complexities.

2. This Committee, through its interactions and memorandums submitted to it, has reached the conclusion that administrative division of the State have given erroneous impression that these constituted the actual regions of the State. It was pointed out that Ladakh has been declared administratively a part of Kashmir province. However, from any standard it cannot be considered as Kashmir region. It was equally argued that Jammu province comprised 22 former principalities, each having distinct historical background cannot be declared as a single homogeneous region. It was also represented that latest SRO-126 dated 28-06-1994 issued by the Jammu & Kashmir Government as a sequel to Justice A.S. Anand Committee Report, which was constituted to look into the social and educational backwardness of Doda district, declared 562 villages out of 655 villages as backward. It was validly argued that hilly regions of the Jammu province, which were ethnically and even agro-climatically different from each other, faced different problems due to the specific regions could not be uniformly applied at the provincial level. The Committee feels that his logic applies to Kashmir province including Ladakh also.

3. This Committee feels that there is dire urgency of defining the regions/province in the State to achieve the twin objective of self-governance and rapid social development. The Committee is of the opinion that the prevailing classification of Provinces/Divisions are hampering the processes of social/human development. The Committee is also of the view that this arrangement is coming in the way of democratic participation at the grassroots level within the State. Thus, in view of historical, social, ethnic and development factors, this Committee recommends that the existing two Provinces/Divisions of Jammu & Kashmir should be classified into eight new regions/provinces. The Committee, therefore, recommends reconstituting Regions/Provinces as follows:-

1. Kamraz (Baramulla and Kupwara Districts)
2. Nundabad (Budgam and Srinagar Districts)
3. Maraz (Anantnag and Pulwama Districts)
4. Chenab Valley (Doda District and Tehsil Mahore)
5. Jammu (Jammu, Kathua & Udhampur [excluding Tehsil Mahore and Rajouri Districts)
6. Pir Panchal (Poonch and Rajouri Districts)
7. Ladakh (Leh District)
8. Kargil (Kargil District)

This classification has been documented in detail in the annexure 'A' to this report.

Regional/ Provincial Councils (Model-1)

1. This experiment of regional/provincial autonomy will be the first of its kind in the country. Some guidelines regarding the constitution, elections and the subjects to be allocated to these Councils may be provided by District and Hill Councils established elsewhere in the country.

2. This Committee recommends the establishment of Regional/Provincial Councils in the State to meet the requirement of devolution of power to different Regions/Provinces in the State. This Regional/Provinces Council may be set up according to the classification of Regions/Provinces as provided in the Annexure 'A' to this report.

3. The Regional/Provincial Councils should be elected in the same manner in which the state legislature is elected. The delimitation of the constituencies should be carried out by the State Election Commission constituted for this purpose. The number of constituencies should be determined in a manner that at least two members from each Block are elected to the Council according to the constituencies delimited for this purpose. There should be a reservation of 25% seats for women in the Council. The leader of the majority party so elected in the Region/Province shall head the Regional/Provincial Council and be designated as Chief Executive Councillor. He/She shall have the status of Ministers of the State. He/She shall not have more than four Executive Councillors to aid and assist him/her.

4. The establishment of Regional/Provincial Councils shall, in no way, affect the institutions of the State, viz; Governor, Chief Minister and his Cabinet, Legislative Assembly, Judiciary and State cadre of services. These institutions shall continue as they are.

5. The Regional/Provincial Councils shall enjoy the executive and taxation powers which should be limited to the subjects allocated to the Council. These subjects should be allocated keeping in view the specificities of Jammu & Kashmir State. In this behalf, the experience of District Councils established elsewhere in the country could provide some guidance. However, this matter needs to be examined carefully by a Committee of Experts which may be constituted separately. There is equally a need to amend the State Constitution which would define the powers of the Councils as well as provide the mechanism for transferring of items from one list to another, i.e. from the State to Regional/Provincial list or vice versa. There is also need to evolve a mechanism to deal with the situation where the Regional/Provincial Council has lost the majority, or has failed to carry on its functions within the provisions of the State Constitution, or is working against the interests of the State or the Country.

6. It is well recognize that political autonomy is tethered to financial autonomy. However, as observed elsewhere, that this would be the first ever experiment of this nature in the country, the selection of subjects to be dealt with by the Regional/Provincial Councils and the areas of allocation of funds and powers of taxation etc. need to be worked out carefully. It is equally a fact that different Regional/Provincial of the State do not face uniform problems. For instance, the development problems of Nundabad Region and the problems of Maraz are not the same. In the same vein, the development problems which these Regions/Provinces face are not similar to the problems in Chenab Valley Region. This Committee is of the view that the basic objective of regional autonomy is to replace the mechanisms and processes of centralized decision making in governance and development by decentralized institutions which would hamper social development in the Regions/Provinces. This Committee is of the view that patterns of financial autonomy of Panchayati Raj institutions as prevailing in Karnataka, West Bengal and Kerala are further studied and a model for the financial autonomy of the Regional/Provincial Councils be evolved. An Experts Committee may be constituted to propose a model for a financial autonomy for the Councils.

District Councils (Model-II)

1. This Committee is aware of the commitment of the Government in the State towards promoting better involvement and participation of people in different regions for a balanced political, economic, social, cultural and educational development. In this behalf, as discussed and proposed in foregoing Paras of this report, the Regional/Provincial Councils would be the ideal institutions to achieve these objectives.

1. The Committee has suggested in its Approach Paper that more than one approach may be adopted in dealing with the issue of internal autonomy in the State. The Committee is of the view that this alternative approach may also be spelled out for the consideration of alternative approach may also be spelled out for the consideration of the Government. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Government may consider setting up District Councils as an alternative to the Regional/Provincial Councils. In view of the experience of District Councils elsewhere in the country, the Committee feels that these Councils in coordination with Panchayati Raj institutions can be effective agents in augmenting the processes leading to faster pace of human development, besides providing effective organs of local self government. The State has been a forerunner in introducing the concept of 'District Planning' by initiating 'Single Line Administration' in the year 1976. The system was introduced to meet the aspirations of common man by making the planning more effective and ensuring speedy implementation of development programmes. In order to further democratise the system, the District Development Commissioners were replaced by Ministers of the Cabinet as chairpersons of District Development Boards. The Committee is of the view that this experiment has been quite fruitful. The establishment of District Councils shall, drawing upon this experience, completely democratise the processes of planning and development at the District level.

2 The Committee, therefore, recommends that in case this model of internal autonomy is accepted, suitable amendment in the Constitution of the State should be carried out.

3 The District Councils may be established in the existing districts of the entire Jammu & Kashmir State.

4 The District Councils should be elected in the same manner in which the State Legislature is elected. The delimitation of the constituencies should be carried out by the State Election Commission constituted for this purpose. The number of constituencies should be determine in a manner that at least two members from each Block are elected from the constituencies delimited for this purpose. There should be a reservation of 25% seats for women in the Council. The leader of the majority party in the Council shall be designated as Chief Councillor and shall have the status of Minister of the State. He/She shall have not more than four Executive Councillors to aid and assist him/her.

5 The District Councils shall enjoy the executive and taxation powers which should be limited to the subjects allocated to the Council. These subjects should be allocated keeping in view the specificities of Jammu and Kashmir State. In this regard, the experience of District Councils functioning elsewhere in the country could provide some guidance. The Committee also recommends that an Experts Committee, proposing the subjects to be allocated to the District Councils, be constituted.

6 The Committee also recommends the evolving of mechanisms to deal with the transfer of subjects from the State list to District list and vice versa. There is also need to evolve the mechanism of dealing with a situation where the leader of the majority party has lost the majority in the Council, or has failed to carry on its functions within the provisions of the State Constitution, or is working against the interests of the State or Country.

7 The Committee recommends that the issue relating to the allocation of funds and the powers of taxation may be assigned to a committee of Experts which should be constituted for this purpose. It needs to be recognized that the problems of development of different districts are not uniform.

Conclusions

1. This Committee is aware of the commitment of the Government in the State towards promoting better involvement and participation of people in different regions for balanced political, economics, educational, social and cultural development.

2. The Committee recognizes that there is a perception of neglect and injustice, real or imaginary, existing among the groups in the diverse regions/provinces of the State. The Committee is of the view that there is urgency in evolving the mechanisms of decentralization of political and economic power to the grassroots level. There is equally an urgency to empower the local organs of State power.

1. In order to achieve the foregoing objective, the Committee has recommended the formation of Regional/Provincial Councils in the State. The Committee is of the view that identifying the Regions/Provinces at this point of time has a special relevance in achieving the objective of devolution of power and bringing about the speedy social development by providing the opportunities of democratic governance and participation in developmental programmes to the ethnic identities in the State.

2. The Committee is also of the view that another approach of satisfying the urges of local self-governance and devolution of political and economic power to people at the grassroots lies through the constituting of District Councils. The Committee has elaborately discussed the reasons of proposing an alternative model of District Councils.

3. The Committee leaves it to the discretion of the Government to accept and adopt one or the other model for the State as recommended in this report. The Committee also recommends that Government may constitute an Experts Committee and seek its opinion on the proposed models before taking a final decision in this behalf.

4. The Committee is of the view that constituting the Regional/Provincial or District Councils will have an enormous impact on the existing administrative structures in the State. Therefore, the Committee recommends constituting a Finance Commission for the Jammu and Kashmir State. The Commission would recommend the methods and mechanisms of raising the funds, devolving the funds to different organs and provide the norms for transfers from the consolidated fund of the State to Regional/Provincial or District Councils.

5. The Committee recommends that necessary amendments to the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, after the decision of adopting the model of Regional/Provincial Councils or the model of district Council s has been taken by the Government, should be carried out in order to bring a particular model within the Constitution framework of the State.

6. The Committee recommends that necessary changes in the functioning of Academy of Art, Culture and Languages may be carried out in order to implement the recommendations made in the report.

7. The Committee also recommends the early setting up of Municipal Corporations in the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu in view of the changing face of these two completely urbanised cities of the State.

8. The Committee recommends that in any set-up adopted by the Government, a special consideration may be shown for the development of the comparatively most backward and hilly areas of the State, viz. Lohai Malhar, Bani, Dudu Basantgarh, Panchari, Paddar, Marwah, Tangdar, Gurais and Uri.

9. The Committee expresses its gratitude to the people, political leaders, activists, writers, teachers, doctors from different regions of the State for extending their co-operation by interacting with the Committee.

10. The Committee concludes this report on this note
"The day will come when the progress of Nation will be judged not by their Military or Economic strength, nor by the splendor of their capital cities and public buildings, but, by the well being of their peoples; by their levels of Health, Nutrition and Education". ('The Progress of Nation' - UNICEF document, 1994)


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The State Autonomy Committee: Recommendations

CHAPTER XIV: SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS

Jammu, April (Excerpts)

1. Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions (Part X)
i. The word "temporary" is deleted from the title of part X of the Constitution of India and the word "temporary" occurring in the heading of Article 370 be substituted by the word "special".

1. Legislative Relations (Part XI)

a. Matters in the Union List not connected with the three subjects of Defence, External Affairs and Communications and/or Ancillary thereto, but made applicable should be excluded from their application to the State.
b. All modifications made in Article 246 in its application of the State subsequent to the 1950 order should be rescinded.
c. Articles 248, 249, 250 and 251 whether applied in original or substituted/modified form should be omitted from their application to the State.
d. As in 1950 and 1954, List II (State) and List III (Concurrent) of the Seventh Schedule should not be applicable to the State.
e. Article 254 should be restored to the position it had in its application to the State in 1954.
f. Articles 262 and 263 which were not applicable under 1950 Order but were subsequently extended to the State should cease to apply.

1. Elections (Part XV)
Changes brought about in this Part be reversed and consequential changes in other Articles in this Part be effected.

2. Emergency Provisions (Part XVIII)
a. The following should be added to C1.6 of Article 352 in its application to the State:-
"Provided that this request for concurrence of the Government of the State shall be subject to whatever decision the State Assembly may take within two months of declaration of emergency and failing any such decision, the proclamation of emergency shall be deemed to have been revoked."
b. Sub-clause (9b) of C1.6 of this Article should be deleted.
c. Article 355, 356, 357, 358, 359 and 360 should be made non-applicable to the State as was the position in 1954.

1. Fundamental Rights (Part III)
This part should be deleted. A separate chapter on Fundamental Rights be included in the State Constitution.

2. The Union (Part V)
a. Article 72 (1) (c), 72 (3), 133, 134, 135, 136, 138, 145 (1) (c) and 151 (2) should be made non-applicable to the State as was the position in 1950 Order.

b. Articles 149, 150 and 151 should apply to the State in the form in which they were in 1954.

1. The State (Part VI)
i. Article 218 be omitted in its application to the State and the position as it existed before the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution (First Amendment Act) of 1959 restored.

ii. Article 220, 222 and 226 should also be omitted in its application to Jammu and Kashmir State.

1. Finance, Property, Contracts and Suits (Part XII)
The matter may be discussed between the state representatives and the Union Government as agreed to during the talks in 1952 (Delhi Agreement).

2. Services Under the Union and the States (Part XIV)
In Article 312, the brackets and words "including the State of Jammu & Kashmir" inserted by the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1958 be omitted.

3. Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes (Part XVI)

Application of Articles 338, 339, 340, 341 and 342 to the State should be omitted and corresponding provisions made in the State Constitution.

4. Amendment of the Constitution of India (Part XX)
i. Clause (4) of Article 368 added vide C.O. 101 be deleted.
ii. Clause (2) of the Article should apply with the proviso already introduced by 1954 order and clause (1) thereof which was not in existence in 1954 and was introduced in 1971 should remain omitted in its application to the State.

1. Schedules

In the Seventh Schedule, entries in the Union List not applied to the State by the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1950 should be omitted. Concurrent List which was not applicable to the State in 1950 but was applied by subsequent orders should cease to apply to the State.

2. Changes in the State Constitution

All amendments in the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir made vide:

i. Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (First Amendment) Act, 1959 in so far as they related to superintendence, direction and control of elections to the State Legislature and to the State High Court; and

ii. Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (Sixth Amendment) Act, 1965 relating to the change of nomenclature of the Head of the State and State Executive, mode of appointment of the Head of the State and other consequential amendments should be repealed and the original provisions of the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir restored.

To sum up, the provisions of the Constitution of India specified in the Second Schedule and the matters specified in the First Schedule to the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1950 and the matters agreed to by the representatives of the State and the Union vide Delhi Agreement of 1952 should continue to apply to the State subject to the same exceptions and modifications as are specified in the said Order and the Delhi Agreement. All orders issued thereafter under clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution of India by the President, applying various provisions and matters of the Constitution of India to the State whether in full or in modified form or making any change in the provisions or matters already applied by 1950 Order or agreed to under Delhi Agreement should be rescinded and the provisions or matters so applied to the State cease to apply.

Also the changes made in the State Constitution vide Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (First Amendment) Act, 1959 and Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir (Sixth Amendment) Act, 1965 be repealed and the original provisions of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir as adopted by the State Constitution Assembly on November 17, 1956 be restored.

CHAPTER XV: SAFEGUARDS FOR FUTURE
In the preceding chapters, we have discussed in detail the extent to which erosion was caused to the State autonomy from time and also suggested remedial measures. That completes the job assigned to us by first item of the terms of reference. There are, however, two other items which require our consideration. The first is to ensure the "inviolability" of the final settlement, and the other is to keep in mind the need to maintain "harmonious" relations with the Centre.
A suggestion has been made that Article 258 should be invoked for entrusting to the State "functions in relation to any matter to which the executive power of the Union extends". This would put a seal on the record of the past. "Functions" so "entrusted" can always be recalled back. The issue is not one of executive "functions" but legislative "powers" apportioned the Instrument of Accession in 1947 and the Delhi Agreement of 1952 to which the President's Order of May 14, 1954 gave constitutional sanction besides, of course, Article 370 itself. To them must we return if popular sentiment is to be respected and resentments assuaged. It is first and foremost a moral issue. It also has important constitutional and political aspects. In the nature of things, redress can only be through another compact between the Union and the State. Once the basic principles are agreed, there will be discussion on procedure. Forty year of unconstitutional practice has created a mess. The best course is for the President to repeal all orders which are not in conformity with Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1950 and the terms of the Delhi Agreement of 1952.

Ever since Article 370 has acquired a dangerously ambiguous aspect. Designed to protect the State's autonomy, it has been used systematically to destroy it. A compact is necessary between the Union and the State which makes ample redress and finalizes their relationship by declaring a "Constitutional Understanding" that Article 370 of the Constitution of India beyond the ones extended under the new 1950 Order and the Delhi Agreement, 1952. This could be embodied in new Article that specifies the Agreement as part of the unamendable basis structure of the Indian Constitution.

Such constitutional understandings have been formulated in other democracies. The complexities of the situation render it the best, perhaps the only, course for removing the debris of an unhappy past and building in its place, a relationship between the State of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union of India which reflect the most vital aspect of federalism -- mutual trust and respect.

Shri Mohi-ud-Din Shah, Chairman
Shri Abdul Rahim Rather, Member
Shri Piyaray Lal Handoo, Member Shri Abdul Ahad Vakil, Member
Shri Bodh Raj Bali, Member
Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, Member
Kushok Thiksey, Member Shri Teja Singh, Member-Convenor
Shri Mohi-ud-Din Shah, Chairman
Shri Abdul Rahim Rather, Member
Shri Piyaray Lal Handoo, Member Shri Abdul Ahad Vakil, Member
Shri Bodh Raj Bali, Member
Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, Member
Kushok Thiksey, Member Shri Teja Singh, Member-Convenor


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Autonomy to Gilgit-Baltistan is a joke: Pakistani Kashmiri leader
By Sarwar Kashani

Srinagar, Sep 1 (IANS) Islamabad’s move to give “greater political autonomy” to the Northern Areas by renaming the region Gilgit-Baltistan and giving it the powers of a federal province is “nothing but a little joke”, says a separatist leader in Pakistan- administered Jammu and Kashmir. On Saturday, the Pakistan cabinet approved the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self Governance Order, 2009, that empowers the local assembly to elect its chief minister; the Pakistan president will appoint a governor for the region adjoining Jammu and Kashmir that was earlier under the direct control of Islamabad.

Like other provinces, the assembly will, however, have no control over defence and treasury.

“We out rightly reject this so called governance order 2009 for Gilgit Baltistan. It is nothing but a little joke to the people of this region and the state of Jammu (and) Kashmir,” Jammu and Kashmir National Awami Party (JKNAP) president Liaqat Hayyat told IANS in an email interview.
The JKNAP is a separatist political outfit based in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir or ‘Azad’ Jammu and Kashmir, the other part of Kashmir that is under Islamabad’s control.

“After 63 years of deprivation of basic human rights, Pakistan’s decision to change the name of the local administration and creation of the authority of chief minister and governor indicates that this region would be a province of the country,” Hayyat said.
The Shia Muslim-dominated region, seen as part of its Jammu and Kashmir state by India, has seen a separatist movement gaining momentum over the past few years.

Alarmingly low literacy levels, the absence of industry, deplorable road and communication links, the lack of energy sources, and the lack of job opportunities have fuelled the resentment and rebellion amongst the people in the region — which was part of Jammu and Kashmir before Pakistan militarily occupied some parts of the erstwhile princely state in 1948.
Islamabad’s move to grant it autonomy to address the simmering discontent has serious implications for the “disputed” territoriality of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It is a totally unconstitutional decision. Pakistan has absolutely no authority over the region to decide the fate of the two million people of disputed Jammu and Kashmir. It is a violation of the UN resolution which has only mandated temporary administrative authority over this region till the Kashmir dispute is resolved between India and Pakistan,” said Hayat.
He said Pakistan was making “an attempt to strengthen (its) occupation over the region and it is not acceptable to any one in the region or any patriotic Kashmiri”.

“This expansionist policy of the Pakistani state must be resisted,” he said.

“This region has not been part of Pakistani state; nor have people of this region ever decided to join Pakistan.

“Pakistani rulers are behaving like colonial powers in the region and imposing their own institutions against the popular will of the people of this unfortunate region. It is condemnable and shameful… The JKNAP will continue its struggle and resist occupation of Kashmir,” he added.
The JKNAP has called for protest Tuesday all over Pakistan-administered Kashmir cities and towns.
Also known as the Karakoram region, Gilgit-Baltistan spreads from Shinaki Kohistan to Chitral (in Pakistan) up to Tashkurgan (under Chinese occupation) and from Ladakh to Kargil in India.

When British rule came to an end in 1947, the region was conquered by Pakistan in 1948 tribal raids. Pakistan later “gifted” a part of the territory towards the extreme north to China.

Stringent laws make the region inaccessible to foreigners and there are few media reports from the region.


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Self-rule in Gilgit-Baltistan demanded

Rawalpindi, May 7 (ANI): Balawaristan National Front (BNF), a nationalist organisation of Gilgit-Baltistan, has demanded self-rule for the region, dissolution of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly, and holding of elections for a constituent assembly to draft a constitution for the region.
In a statement, BNF chairman Abdul Hamid Khan condemned the rulers for violating human rights of the two million people of the region and treating them as their colonial subjects.

He alleged that successive governments of PPP and PML-N had been claiming that they were not allowed to complete their tenures otherwise they could have solved the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan. Now the PPP and the PML-N have formed a coalition government and should not make any further excuse and resolve the issue, the Dawn quoted Khan as saying in the statement.

Khan said for the last over six decades people of the region had been kept deprived of their basic rights, and stressed on the need to ensure an independent judiciary in the region so that people could be provided justice.

He recalled that recently federal minister Qamaruz Zaman Kaira had visited Gilgit and stated that the issue of giving provincial status to the region was a sensitive one. Endorsing the minister’s viewpoint, Khan said that Pakistan could neither separate Gilgit-Baltistan from the issue of Kashmir, nor make the region its province before resolution of the Kashmir issue.

However, Islamabad can give a special provincial status and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir-type setup to the area without any hindrance.

 

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