India

Permanent Residency Row: Not Considering Any Change to The Act, Says Governor Satyapal Malik; Calls it Integral Part of J&K’s Legal Structure



New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik asserted that his administration was not considering any changes to the legislation governing permanent resident certificates (PRCs) in the state, after mainstream political parties accused him of the same.

In a letter addressed to former Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, Malik said,”At the outset, I would like to mention that the government is not making or even considering any changes to the act governing permanent resident certificates in the state. It is an integral part of the legal structure of Jammu and Kashmir and there is no attempt whatsoever to tamper with this law.”

“As for the matters in the rest of your letter, I would like to highlight that no changes in the procedural rules governing the issue of PRCs will ever be done without larger consultations with all stakeholders. Consultations are essential so as to avoid any unnecessary apprehensions in the minds of anyone,” Malik added further.

He also assured him that nothing will be done to modify the procedures for issuing PRCs.  “In view of the concerns expressed by you, I will assure you that nothing will be done to modify the procedures for issuing PRCs. I may like to point out here to you that seeking a PRC is one of the services under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act of 2011. As per this act, a PRC by a genuine state subject applicant should be obtained within a period of 30 days from the date of application. It has been observed that many genuine applicants face avoidable difficulties in getting a PRC within these timelines,” Malik said.

“There have also been complaints that the issuance of these certificates gets delayed due to a variety of procedural reasons. It is in this context of having a hassle-free process of bonafide applicants that I believe the revenue department has sought comments from a few others. This is a routine administrative matter and unnecessary meanings should not be read into it,” he stated.

Furthermore he added,”I would request you not to pay heed to such frivolous and unfounded reports. In fact, you have an obligation to dispel rather than promote unnecessary mistrust among the people and are always welcome to discuss issues with me, which you have been doing once in a while.”

Earlier in the day, Abdullah wrote to the governor, saying the National Conference would oppose any move to change the procedure to grant PRCs in the state.  Expressed his displeasure, Abdullah had said that Malik’s decision was “an attempt to distort the demography of the state” and “detrimental to J&K’s special status”.

“We are obligated to write to you at a time when you are mulling changes to the permanent resident certificate rules. Our party, the National Conference, is of the opinion that this is an attempt to distort the demography of the state and finds it detrimental to J-K’s special status,” Abdullah had said in a letter to the governor Malik.

“I’m trying to fax a letter to jandkgovernor but the fax machine still isn’t working. The operator who answered the phone says the fax operator is on holiday as it’s a Sunday. Will attempt again tomorrow in the meantime am forced to put the letter out through social media,” Abdullah had tweeted.

Replying to his remarks that the fax machine at the Governor’s House was not working, Malik said, “Incidentally my fax machine was working and your fax was received and confirmed by my office while you were tweeting that it was not functional.”

Besides Abdullah,  Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference chairman Sajad Gani Lone also hit out at governor Malik, saying any changes in the procedure for granting PRCs in the state would be “unacceptable”.

“The governor administration needs to restrict itself to basic governance. No structural changes pertaining to PRC or J&K Bank are acceptable. Restrict your energies to what u r (you are) mandated to do — which incidentally u r (you are) not doing. Please don’t invent new problems,” People’s Conference chief Sajad Lone wrote on Twitter.

Article 35A of the Constitution empowers the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to define ‘permanent residents’ of the state who are eligible for special rights and privileges, which the legislature can provide. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a bunch of petitions seeking abrogation of Article 35A, which was added by a presidential order in 1954 through Article 370 of the Constitution.

(With agency inputs)

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