New Delhi: In a significant legislative development, the Lok Sabha on Wednesday (December 6) approved two bills amending crucial laws in Jammu and Kashmir. The bills, namely the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, were initially introduced in Parliament in July this year.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, brings modifications to the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act, 2004, governing reservations in jobs and admissions to professional institutions for members of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and socially and educationally backward classes. Notable features include the replacement of the phrase "weak and underprivileged classes" with "other backward classes" as declared by the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The bill eliminates the original definition of weak and underprivileged classes.
On the other hand, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, amends the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which facilitated the reorganisation of the erstwhile state into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. This bill proposes to increase the total number of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly from 83 to 90, with seven reserved for scheduled caste members and nine for legislators from scheduled tribes. Additional features include the power of the lieutenant governor to nominate up to two members from the Kashmiri migrant community to the legislative assembly, with one nominee being a woman. Furthermore, one member representing displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir may be nominated.
"Kashmiri Migrants" are defined as persons who migrated from the Kashmir Valley or any other part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir after November 1, 1989, and are registered with the Relief Commissioner.
During the second day of the debate in the lower house of the parliament, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly emphasized that the 'Naya Kashmir'—ushered in through the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, and the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2023—will ensure justice for those deprived of their rights for the last 70 years.
During the discussion, several members of the opposition opposed the passing of the bill, citing the awaited Supreme Court judgment on the validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 and the abrogation of Article 370. The opposition also questioned the absence of elections in J&K for four years since the abrogation of the region's special status.