The Lok Sabha on August 6, 2019, passed the Jammu and Kashmir (Reorganization) Bill 2019, which seeks reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.
The Bill was passed with 376 'yes' votes and 67 'no' votes.
The Rajya Sabha through a voice vote had cleared the Bill on August 5, 2019, with 125 being in favour and 61 against it.
Key highlights of the Bill are as follows:-
- Reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir: The Bill reorganises the state of Jammu and Kashmir into: (i) the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and (ii) the Union Territory of Ladakh without a legislature. The Union Territory of Ladakh will comprise Kargil and Leh districts, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will comprise the remaining territories of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Lieutenant Governor:The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be administered by the President, through an administrator appointed by him known as the Lieutenant Governor. The Union Territory of Ladakh will be administered by the President, through a Lieutenant Governor appointed by him.
- Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir:The Bill provides for a Legislative Assembly for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The total number of seats in the Assembly will be 107. Of these, 24 seats will remain vacant on account of certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir being under the occupation of Pakistan. Further, seats will be reserved in the Assembly for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in proportion to their population in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, the Lieutenant Governor may nominate two members to the Legislative Assembly to give representation to women, if they are not adequately represented.
- The Assembly will have a term of five years, and the Lieutenant Governor must summon the Assembly at least once in six months. The Legislative Assembly may make laws for any part of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir related to: (i) any matters specified in the State List of the Constitution, except “Police” and “Public Order”, and (ii) any matter in the Concurrent List applicable to Union Territories. Further, Parliament will have the power to make laws in relation to any matter for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Council of Ministers: The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Council of Ministers of not more than ten percent of the total number of members in the Assembly. The Council will aide and advise the Lieutenant Governor on matters that the Assembly has powers to make laws. The Chief Minister will communicate all decisions of the Council to the Lieutenant Governor.
- High Court: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common High Court for the Union Territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir. Further, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have an Advocate General to provide legal advice to the government of the Union Territory.
- Legislative Council:The Legislative Council of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be abolished. Upon dissolution, all Bills pending in the Council will lapse.
- Advisory Committees: The central government will appoint Advisory Committees, for various purposes, including: (i) distribution of assets and liabilities of corporations of the state of Jammu and Kashmir between the two Union Territories, (ii) issues related to the generation and supply of electricity and water, and (iii) issues related to the Jammu and Kashmir State Financial Corporation. These Committees must submit their reports within six months to the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, who must act on these recommendations within 30 days.
- Extent of laws:The Schedule lists 106 central laws that will be made applicable to Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on a date notified by the central government. These include the Aadhaar Act, 2016, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Right to Education Act, 2009. Further, it repeals 153 state laws of Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, 166 state laws will remain in force, and seven laws will be applicable with amendments. These amendments include lifting of prohibitions on lease of land to persons who are not permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.