From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Minutes of the bifurcation
Mains level : Administrative changes in J&K
- The state of Jammu and Kashmir will be officially bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh from today.
- Beyond the symbolic importance October 31 is the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel — the day will mark the beginning of the functioning of the two UTs at a bureaucratic level.
- The period between August 5 and October 31 has been used by the state administration and the Home Ministry to put a basic bureaucratic structure in place to implement the J&K Reorganization Act.
Changes after Bifurcation
What happens on October 31?
- In terms of events, the Lt. Governors of the two UTs will take oath of office along with the Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
- Last week, the Union government appointed serving IAS officer of Gujarat cadre G.C. Murmu as the LG of Jammu and Kashmir, and retired bureaucrat of Tripura cadre Radha Krishna Mathur as LG of Ladakh.
- On the ground, the two UTs will get their own Chief Secretaries and other top bureaucrats, their own police chiefs and key supervisory officers.
- While Dilbagh Singh will continue to be DG of J&K police, an IG-level officer will head the police in Ladakh. Both forces will remain part of the J&K cadre which will eventually merge with the UT cadre.
- For full-fledged bifurcation, the Reorganization Act gives a period of one year.
- Reorganization of states is a slow process that at times can take years; issues relating to reorganization of erstwhile Andhra which was bifurcated into Andhra and Telangana in 2013, are still being brought to the Union Home Ministry for resolution.
What will happen to other officers already posted in the undivided state?
- An apportionment of posts in both UTs has been done. While the bureaucratic structures are in place, the staffs of the state administration are yet to be divided.
- The government had asked all staff to send in applications for their preferred posting between the two UTs. This process is still on.
- The basic idea is to have minimum shifting between the two UTs, sources in the state administration said, with preference being given to regional affinities.
- Those from Ladakh prefer being posted in the region and those from Kashmir and Jammu want to stay put.
- The only issue is there aren’t enough Ladakhi staff to fill in all posts there. So some people from Jammu and Kashmir may have to go there.
What happens to the laws that governed the state of J&K?
- Legislative restructuring is a work in progress, with a lot remaining to be done. While 153 state laws are to be repealed, 166 have been retained.
- Then there is the cosmetic exercise of repealing Acts that mention “applicable to all of India but not the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
- As of now, the state administration has implemented all that is mentioned in the Reorganization Act as it is.
- But it is also saddled with the massive legislative exercise of arriving at and making state-specific insertions into the 108 central laws that would now be applicable to the two UTs.
- For example, the state used to have its own Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) which would now be replaced by the central CrPC.
- Unlike the Ranbir Penal Code, which is practically a replica of the Indian Penal Code, Kashmir’s CrPC has many provisions different from the Central CrPC.
- It will have to be seen if any modification needs to be done to suit the state. But a final decision in all these aspects would be taken by Delhi.
- Similarly, there are state-specific insertions that may be done in laws relating to the protection of women and children that have been replaced by the POCSO Act of the Centre.
- While the quota for economically weaker sections has already been added through an amendment, the Centre may want to make some insertions drawing from central Acts.
Which are the laws that may require state-specific insertions?
- A major bone of contention with regard to the Juvenile Justice Acts of the Centre and the state is the age limit.
- While the central Act takes those above the age of 16 as adults, the state Act’s age limit is 18.
- The argument has been that given the special situation in Kashmir where teenagers are often found to be part of violent protests, the central Act could jeopardize the future of many.
- As far as the state’s reservation laws are concerned, they do not recognise reservation according to caste.
- The state has provided for region-wise reservation such as quota for those living near the LoC and the International Border and a quota for backward regions.
- While the state population includes 8% SCs and 10% STs, there are regional differences such as Ladakh having no SC population but a high tribal population.
How will assets be shared?
- A far more complicated task than sharing of assets is financial restructuring.
- Because of the decision coming in August, the administration is saddled with a middle-of-the-year financial restructuring which is proving to be a massive bureaucratic exercise.
- The government constituted a three-member advisory committee under the chairmanship of former Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra to divide the assets and liabilities of the state between the two UTs. The committee is yet to submit its report.
- Three more committees — on personnel, finance and administrative matters — were constituted at the state level for the purpose of reorganization.
- The three committees are learnt to have completed their work but their recommendations have not been made public yet.
- Notably, while the total budget for Union Territories is Rs 7,500 crore, the budget for Jammu and Kashmir is in excess of Rs 90,000 crore.
- This could also necessitate continuance of the Kashmir division in the Home Ministry.