Govt scraps Art 370, moves to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two UTs

RSTV Bureau

Treasury Benches in Rajya SabhaRajya Sabha on Monday passed a bill proposing bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories – Jammu and Kashmir division and Ladakh.

Home Minister Amit Shah introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill in the Upper House.

Making the announcement in Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the union territories in Ladakh will have no legislature like Chandigarh while the other union territories of Jammu and Kashmir will have a legislature like Delhi and Puducherry.

The Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir will have a Lieutenant Governor and the maximum strength of its Assembly will be of 107 seats which will be further enhanced to 114 after a delimitation exercise, according to a Bill introduced in Parliament on Monday.

The current effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is 87, including four seats falling in Ladakh region, which will now be a separate UT without a legislature. Twenty-four seats of the Assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

“…the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114, and delimitation of the constituencies may be determined by the Election Commission in the manner hereinafter provided,” according to the J-K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, introduced by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

The UT of Ladakh will have Kargil and Leh districts, it said.

There shall be a council of ministers in the successor UT of J-K, the Bill said, consisting of not more than ten per cent of the total number of members in the Legislative Assembly, with the Chief Minister at the head “to aid and advise” the Lieutenant Governor in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly has power to make laws.

It said that the new UT will have reservation in the Assembly seats.

“The number of seats to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly, having regard to the relevant provisions of the Constitution…,” it said.

The Bill said that the Lieutenant Governor of the successor UT of J-K 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.

It also said that the Lok Sabha will have five seats from the UT of J-K, while Ladakh will have one seat.

“On and from the appointed day, there shall be allocated five seats to the successor UT of J-K and one seat to UT of Ladakh, in the House of the People, and the First Schedule to the Representation of the People Act, 1950 (43 of 1950) shall be deemed to be amended accordingly,” it said.