J&K state formally ceases to exist, gives way to two Union Territories

Lt Governor of J&K Girish Chandra Murmu arrives in Srinagar

New Delhi (NVI): History was created when more than 72 years after its accession to India, the state of Jammu and Kashmir formally ceased to exist and two new Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh came up in its place on October 31.

The day also coincides with the birth anniversary of India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who is credited with integrating hundreds of princely states with Union of India post independence, and many perceive the decision on J&K as a tribute to the ‘iron man of India’ as he is popularly called. The October 31 is also observed as the National Unity Day.

The newly appointed Lieutenant Governor of the UT of Ladakh retired IAS RK Mathur took oath of office in a modest ceremony in Leh while IAS officer Girish Chandra Murmu was sworn-in at LT of J&K in Srinagar on October 31. Meanwhile, SS Kandhare has been appointed as the head of the police in Ladakh whereas 1989 batch IAS Umang Narula has been appointed as Advisor to LG of this UT, an official release said. Dilbagh Singh will continue to be DG of J&K police

The Government had in August decided to scrap the special status of J&K granted under Article 370 and bifurcate the state into the two Union Territories as per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019. This is for the first time in the history of India, that a state was converted into two UTs even though there have been instances when a UT became full state or a state bifurcated into two states.

It was 72 years ago that the then ruler of the princely state, Maharaja Hari Singh, executed the Instrument of Accession on October 26, 1947, making J&K part of the Union of India.

What the J&K reorganisation entails

According to the Act, the UT of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Puducherry while Ladakh will be a UT without legislature like Chandigarh. The Centre will be in direct control of the police and the law and order in Jammu and Kashmir from Thursday when it becomes a UT, while the land will be under the elected government there. The UT of Ladakh will be under the direct control of the central government which will administer the high altitude region through the LG.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 says the all India Services like the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS), of J-K cadre will continue to serve in the two succeeding UTs while new recruits of these services will be allocated in the Arunachal, Goa, Mizoram Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.

For full-fledged bifurcation, the Reorganisation Act gives a period of one year.

The total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir to be filled by persons chosen by direct election shall be 107. The number of the seats shall be increased from 107 to 114, and delimitation of the constituencies may be determined by the Election Commission.

There shall be a Council of Ministers consisting of not more than ten percent of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly.

Twenty four seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall remain vacant and shall not be taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the Assembly; and the said area and seats shall be excluded in delimiting the territorial constituencies.

The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir shall be the common High Court for the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union territory of Ladakh.

Seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Lieutenant Governor of the successor Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir may nominate two members to the Legislative Assembly to give representation to women, if in his opinion, women are not adequately represented in the Legislative Assembly.

-nad