From the State Autonomy Committee Report

Published : Jul 08, 2000 00:00 IST

Important recommendations of the State Autonomy Committee (SAC) Report, illustrating the constitutional changes that will have to be discussed if the demand for greater autonomy is to be realised.

Recommendations Explanations

The word "temporary" was used because the Jammu and Kashmir Constituent Assembly, which alone had the power to finalise the relationship between the State and the Union of India, had yet to be convened. The SAC has recommended that the word be replaced w ith "special", thus defending Article 370 against future assaults against it.

According to the Presidential Order of 1950, issued after the Constitution of India and with it Article 370 came into force, matters relating to only Defence, External Affairs and Communications for Jammu and Kashmir could be legislated upon by Parliamen t. Matters in the Union List in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution not related to these areas would have to be excluded from application to the State. The State and Concurrent Lists in the Eighth Schedule would also have to be made non-applicable. C hanges in Articles 256, 248, 249, 250, 251, 254 and 263 of the Constitution would be required.

State regulatory bodies, not the Central Election Commission, would govern elections to the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature.

In order to make the imposition of Emergency dependent on the State government's consent, Article 352 should be modified and Articles 355-360 made non-applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, as was the case until 1954.

No agreement on the fundamental rights issue was reached in 1952, so the State Constitution contains only Directive Principles. State subjects of Jammu and Kashmir, of course, enjoy the same rights as all other Indian citizens.

Contrary to some reports, the SAC Report does not seek an end to the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. It merely argues that "it has got to be recorded that this aspect of State-Union relationship was not settled at the time of Delhi Agreement of 1952." It, however, demands a welter of constitutional amendments allowing the State to appoint, fix service conditions of and remove its own High Court judges. Prior to 1952, Jammu and Kashmir had a High Court whose judgments could be reviewed by the Maharaja, adv ised by a Board of Judicial Advisers.

The changes the SAC Report has suggested would mean an end to the appointment in the State of personnel of Union services such as the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service and the Audits and Accounts Service. These changes would necess itate exemption of Jammu and Kashmir from the provisions of Article 312.

The SAC recommends that provisions in the Indian Constitution enabling reservations for Dalits be replaced with changes in the State Constitution. Gujjar and Bakarwal organisations and Dalit groups in the Jammu area are opposed to this idea.

In essence, the SAC Report seeks to regain control of the nomenclature of, for example, the Head of State, lost as a result of the 1975 agreement. The Chief Minister would, for example, be known as the Wazir-e-Azam, and the Governor as the Sadar-i-Riyasa t. Appointment of Governors would require the State government's consent.

The SAC Report makes clear that the State would need considerable Central support, notwithstanding its autonomous status. No agreement was arrived at in 1952, and the SAC's members evidently saw no reason to exercise their minds with the issue now.

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