President of India signs off on Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019
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President of India signs off on Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019

Bar & Bench

The President of India has given his assent for the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019  which  declares Jammu and Kashmir as a separate Union Territory with a Legislature. The Bill also provides for making Ladakh a Union Territory without a Legislature.

Section 3 of the Reorganisation Bill states,

“On and from the appointed day, there shall be formed a new Union territory to be known as the Union territory of Ladakh comprising the following territories of the existing State of Jammu and Kashmir, namely:” “Kargil and Leh districts”.”

Section 4 states,

“On and from the appointed day, there shall be formed a new Union territory to be known as the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir comprising the territories of the existing State of Jammu and Kashmir other than those specified in section 3.”

The Bill further provides that the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir will now be known as the Lieutenant Governor of the Union Territories of Jammy and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Moreover, Article 239A, which applies to the Union Territory of Puducherry, shall also apply to the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. This provision enables Parliament to create a body which will function as the Legislature of the Union Territory, as well as a Council of Ministers. Clause (2) of Article 239A states that any law made towards this purpose shall not be deemed to be a Constitutional amendment under Article 368.

The Presidential Order of August 5 had paved the way for the Centre to introduce the Reorganisation Bill. The August 5 Presidential Order superseded the Constitution (Application to Jammu & Kashmir) Order, 1954, which had which listed out provisions of the Constitution of India that would not apply to Jammu & Kashmir.

This 1954 Order had also introduced Article 35A to the Constitution, which granted special rights to permanent residents of the Jammu & Kashmir  with respect to employment by the State government, acquisition of immovable property, and settlement in the State. It had further added a proviso to Article 368 of the Constitution, which deals with amendment of constitutional provisions, stating,

“Provided further that no such amendment shall have effect in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir unless applied by order of the President under clause (1) of article 370”.

Home Minister, Amit Shah introduced the August 5 Order during the discussion on the Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Monday. This Bill provides for reservation in appointment and promotions in State government posts, and admission to professional institutions for certain reserved categories, for socially and educationally backward classes. It defines socially and educationally backward classes to include persons living in areas adjoining the Actual Line of Control.

However, during the discussion on this Bill, Shah made a reference to the 2019 Presidential Order, which effectively rendered Article 370 redundant. A day later, the President also formally declared the removal of this provision, which had until then signified the special autonomy granted to the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

Before the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections, the BJP had released a manifesto reiterating its long held view that Article 370 of the Constitution, which grants autonomy to J&K in certain respects, must be abrogated.

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