SRINAGAR–Fear of demographic change has gripped Jammu and Kashmir after the government amended Domicile Act, paving the way for spouses of native women married outside to become residents of Union Territory.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of India, read with section 15 of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Act 2010, the government now directs in sub-rule (1) of rule 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate Rules 220, after S.No/Clause 6, the following shall be added,” said Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, Commissioner-Secretary, General Administration Department, Jammu, and Kashmir government, in a notification.
Before the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, there was no provision for the issuance of permanent resident certificates to husbands of native women married outside J&K.
Article 35A was included in the Indian constitution by presidential order in 1954. Under this provision, Indian citizens other than the state subjects of Jammu and Kashmir can neither acquire immovable property nor have voting rights in the restive state.
The provision forms the basis of permanent resident law promulgated by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1927 following a campaign by the Kashmiri pandits against the hiring of civil servants from Punjab.
A petition filed by a Delhi-based non-governmental organization has challenged Article 35 A in the Supreme Court, saying it conflicts with Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution for creating a particular class of citizens within a class of citizens of India. Charu Wali Khanna, a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, settled outside the state, challenged the legality of Article 35 A in the Supreme Court because the law disenfranchises and takes away her succession rights.
Before August 5, 2019, husbands of local women married outside of J&K had no right to buy a property or apply for jobs in J&K. With the amendment in the J&K Domicile Act, they will have equal rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
The government has authorized tehsildars to issue such certificates against a valid proof of marriage and a domicile certificate of spouse. District Collectors will be the appellate authority for the same.
Earlier on April 4, the Centre issued a gazette notification defining the domicile of Jammu and Kashmir. The new laws state that one ‘who has resided for 15 years in J&K or has studied for seven years and appeared in Class 10/12 exam in J&K, or is registered as migrant by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner,’ will be considered a domicile of the state.
Children of government employees who have served in Jammu and Kashmir for a total period of ten years or children of parents who fulfill any of the conditions in sections were also eligible for domicile’.
National Conference MP Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi said the recent amendment in Domicile law is widening the law.
“In the Domicile law, it was mentioned that a person who lived in Kashmir for fifteen years could claim for domicile, and in case of his death, his children can claim. “Now the recent amendment has added spouse in it,” he told a local news agency.
Terming the amendment “a historic decision,” J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina said it would go a long way to end the injustice meted out to the girls of J&K by previous governments.