Srinagar: The Centre's move to scrap a local law under which people were appointed on a contractual and ad hoc basis, as well as the opening of senior-level government jobs to 'outsiders', has triggered a backlash in Kashmir with both politicians and civil society activists slamming the authorities over the decision.
The Central government has repealed the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Service Special Provisions Act, under which the jobs were filled on a contractual and ad hoc basis from among Kashmiris, before the employees were regularised after seven years of service. As per the Gazette Notification, New Delhi has also amended the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Decentralisation Act — removing the requirement of a state subject for all categories of jobs and instead making the domicile residence as a requirement for jobs in the lower category of employment, while opening up senior-level appointments to people from different states of India.
What has also left the locals upset is the inclusion of all children of Central government employees having served in Jammu and Kashmir for 10 years, as well as those living in the erstwhile state for the past 15 years or having studied for seven years and having taken Class 10 and 12 exams as domicile residents.
Through fresh regulations, the Centre has removed the requirement of permanent residence as eligibility for the three categories of jobs — district, division and now, the Union Territory, while asserting that domicile will be mandatory only for lower-rung jobs up to Level 4 (in the pay range of Rs 25,500), which is seen by many as "insulting". Former chief minister and National Conference leader, Omar Abdullah, tweeted that the new regulations for the government jobs is an "insult heaped on the injury".
The assertion in the regulation that it was framed also for the "purposes of appointment to any post carrying a pay of not more than Level 4 (Rs 25,500)" has been made in addition to the change in the JK Civil Service law designating the state cadre as the UT cadre and altogether "omitting" the sections that made it mandatory "for a person to be a state subject for the jobs".
The appointments will continue to be made under the district cadre posts which exist in the pay-scale of jobs not exceeding that of a senior assistant; divisional cadre with employees not exceeding the level of section officer or the notified gazetted posts. The state cadre has been designated as UT cadre and will fill the posts in the gazetted and non-gazetted category that are appointed at the level of "the headquarters" of a department.
The changes in the local civil service law came over seven months after the Centre scrapped the semi-autonomous status of the region abolishing Jammu and Kashmir's separate constitution as well as removing the state flag. At the time of scrapping of Article 370, the government had, however, retained the JK Civil Service Law as part of the JK Re-organisation Act.
Earlier, the officials of the UT had said that they had no "plans" to change the law, while the officials in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said that any changes to "local laws have to be made by the UT government only and not by the Centre". An MHA official had told this reporter earlier, "There is a set procedure given in the Re-organisation Act to make the changes in the laws and the local laws would have to be changed by the UT government."
The notification about the new job regulation has been issued however in the Gazette of India under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act by the MHA. The new regulations came as a blow to the newly-formed Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) that had positioned its politics on the promise of protecting the "jobs of the local people".
Party president, Altaf Bukhari, said in a statement, "Being a government-issued order and not a law made by the Parliament, the new Gazette Notification regarding domicile rule for Jammu and Kashmir is not immune to any judicial review. The order issued is totally unacceptable to the JKAP. In the matter of employment — non-gazetted and gazetted posts in the service, and admissions to professional colleges — a tangible legal and constitutional mechanism was supposed to be put in place to safeguard and protect the privileges of the people of Jammu and Kashmir."
Through the order, the Centre has also removed a requirement for the district and division-level posts that "a person shall be deemed to be resident of a particular district or division if he or she has resided in such district or division as the case may be, for a period of not less than 15 years before the date of applying for a particular post and is actually residing in the said area.”
BJP spokesperson, Brigadier Anil Gupta, however said that the "new job regulation will bring transparency into recruitment and also ensure that the people from the rest of country participate in the economic development of the UT," adding, "After the scrapping of Article 370, we had given voting rights to people from other parts of country and now, with the new law, they can participate in the economic development of the UT. There were many jobs that remained unfilled, now that won't be the case," he said.
Civil society activist and former leader of the employees joint action committee (EJAC), Abdul Qayoom Wani, however said that the new law will "rob Kashmiris of their jobs". He claimed, "Delhi has always plundered Kashmir. They looted our resources, our power and now our jobs are being stolen. In Kashmir, government jobs are the only means of livelihood and now they have also gone. Our bureaucracy mostly has officers from other states and now, the lower-paying jobs have also not been spared," he said.
Updated Date: Apr 04, 2020 10:37:17 IST