The New Domicile Law has enraged the people of Kashmir valley, fuelling their mind with insecurity and anxiety regarding their future. After the abrogation of article370 and 35A the centre passed J&K Reorganization bill in the parliament on 5 August 2019, revoking the special status of Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. On 31 March 2020, the Ministry of Home Affairs brought changes in the 2010 Legislation regarding the J&K Reorganization 2019 ( Decentralization And Recruitment Act ) by replacing the words “ permanent residents “ with “ domiciles of J&K “ . The 2010 act focuses on employing the locals compromising the district, divisional, state cadre post. Before the amendment of the law, only permanent residents were given freedom to apply for gazetted and non – gazetted posts but now the new rules have changed the whole scenario. According to new law, Domicile certificates will be provided to those individual who have been living in the UT for 15 long years, or to those who have been studying for seven years and have appeared for standard X/XII examination in any of the educational institute registered and located in J&K. Further to this, children of central government officials or organizations affiliated to central government, all the PSUs, recognized research institutes of centre, central universities who have been in service for J&K for “total period of 10 years “will avail the certificate. It also includes the migrants registered by The Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner. The West Pakistan refugees and children of women who are married to non-local are also added to the list. A new section – 3A has been added in J&K reorganization order, 2019 that defines the domicile criteria. The task of issuing the certificate has been given to tehsildars. If there is any dispute regarding the domiciles, it will be settled by Deputy Commissioner.
This law allows people from outside J&K to apply for jobs in the UT. However, the jobs till level IV have been reserved for people with Domicile status. But other gazetted and non- gazetted jobs have been opened for people from across the county, including people domiciled in J&K. The mandatory residency clause which barred inter-district appointment or inter-division appointment across J&K has been omitted. Till now nothing has been mentioned for the issue of the land.
National Conference (NC) opposes domicile rules and orders and demands for their immediate revocation. Former chief minister, Omar Abdulla accused the centre of the “suspect timing “for amending the law. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mehbooba Mufti claims that the law will bring about changes in the demography, will lead widening the gap and causing alienation. According to NC, the step was taken to with the purpose of disempowering the youth. The regional party has challenged the decision in the high court.
However, Kashmiri Pandits and spokesperson from other deprived communities show gratitude to the Prime Minister, they denounce the local parties of J&K for opposing the new domicile law stating that it uncovers how these local parties are against the minorities.
Article 370 & 53A and the Domicile Law
Article 370 – Features and Provisions:
Present in Part XXI of the Indian Constitution which comprises of Temporary and Special Provisions which comprises of Temporary, Temporary and Special Provisions with rest to various states of India. It provided for a separate Constitution for the state J&K. Article 35A was added to the Constitution (empowering the state legislature to legislate on the privileges of permanent residents with regard to immovable property, settlement in the state, and employment). On 5th August 2019, the Government of India revoked the provisions of Article 370 and 35A. Pros of Domicile Law: The Valmiki community will have the opportunity to take up jobs and will be entitled to take to the rights which were denied to them earlier. Even the West Pakistan Refugees will be equally benefited by it. Women who were deprived of their property rights will now enjoy their right to property. Benefits to J&K: Private investments would now be possible in the UT, which will result in employment generation. The Tourism sector will also bloom and this will serve as a means to inform people about J&K, not as a terror state but as a flourishing Union Territory. Kashmiri workers engaged in the handloom industry will have a wider reach for their products like Pashmina, Kani and Raffle shawls, Blankets like Lois and Chashme Bulbul, cotton and Arabian Rumals and tweed and Linen fabrics.
What lies ahead for the Union Territory?
Kashmir valley has been victim of violence and prolonged public agitations back in 2010 and 2016, which resulted in bloody clashes between the law enforcing agencies and the mobs of stone pelting, one might have thought that the government’s decision to scrape off Article 370 and 35A would have been a major mistake in the form of widespread protest, however, the due credit goes to the Centre for taking the right decision at right time. There were serious moments when public criticized the Centre for imposing stringent prohibitory orders on the local people’s moment and for banning the use of the internet and social media , these measures were taken to avoid violence and spread of rumors.
The gullible people of J&K were always exploited by the mainstream political parties by using Article 370 as their main tool to store support for winning their election agenda. More than half of the Kashmiris are unaware of the fact that this same article has been amended a multiple times by the consecutive J&K governments in many forms: as land grants, the 2008 land row was one of its outcomes, also by enhancing IPS, IAS quota. The abrogation the Article was one of the finest step taken by the Government Of India , to escort in a new pattern of development , good governance and socio- economic justice in J&K by creating ‘ one nation one- constitution ‘ .
The Domicile law is certainly a progressive law and the dream of DR. B.R Ambedkar of ensuring right to equality to all citizens granted under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution seems to have been fulfilled. This step may help to revive the spirit of Kashmiriyat. Now that there will be one Constitution throughout India from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we might definitely expect the social and economic upliftment of the citizens of Kashmir.
1) Khan Ghazal, July 23 2020, Explainer: All you need to know about Jammu and Kashmir’s domicile law, August 24, 2020, The Economic Times, https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/explainer-all-you-need-to-know- about-jammu-and-kashmirs-domicile-law/articleshow/77122595.cms
2) Singh Vijaita, May 23, 2020, Domicile rules for J&K, August 24, 2020, The Hindu, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/domicile-rules-for- jk/article31660363.ece
3) Iyer Prithvi, Shah Khalid, Decoding the new domicile law of Jammu and Kashmir, August 15 2020, ORF, https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/decoding-new- domicile-law-jammu-kashmir-68777/
4) April 01 2020, 6:52, centre expands domicile rule for J&K includes people living in UT for 15 years , August 20 2020, DD News, http://ddnews.gov.in/national/centre- expands-domicile-rule-jk-includes-people-living-ut-15-years
5) Domicile law for Jammu and Kashmir, August 18 2020, Manifest IAS, https://www.manifestias.com/2020/06/04/domicile-law-for-jammu-and-kashmir/
6) Home: Ministry of Home Affairs, August 21 2020, Home| Ministry of Home Affairs | GOI, https://www.mha.gov.in/
7) July 13 2020, J&K: with new law, refugees and marginalised communities get domicile certificates , August 22 2020, NewsClick, https://www.newsclick.in/Jammu- Kashmir-Domicile-Certificates-Refugees-Marginalised-Communities
8) August 23 2020, Six J&K parties take pledge to restore Article 370; ‘daydream’, says BJP: India News – Times of India, August 23 2020, The Times Of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/six-jk-parties-pledge-to-restore-article-370- day-dream-says-bjp/articleshow/77694248.cms
9) Ehsan Mir, August 22 2020, Kashmir leaders resolve to fight for restoration of Article 370 and J-K statehood, August 23 2020, Hindustan Times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kashmir-leaders-resolve-to-fight-for- restoration-of-article-370-and-j-k-statehood/story- u6knbADZX0bGNzCpW3TuVM.html
Author: Aangi Desai, BA student from St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai
Co-Author: Yashvi Barot, BA student from St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai