Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024

The Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024 was introduced in Lok Sabha on 5th February , 2024. This Bill aims to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Act, 2000, and the Jammu and Kashmir Municipal Corporation Act, 2000. The bill is formulated to align the existing local bodies laws, specifically focusing on the reservation of seats in Panchayats and Municipalities for Other Backward Classes (OBCs). 

Under the three Acts, seats in certain institutions like panchayats,  municipalities, municipal corporations, block development councils and  district development councils in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) are reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).  The reserved seats are proportional to the population of these groups in the area covered by the respective institution.  One-third of such seats are reserved for women.  The Bill extends reservation to OBCs as well.  OBCs are groups notified as weak and under-privileged by the Government of the Union Territory of J&K.

The Bill further provides for the Mandate of the State Election Commission that prepares the electoral rolls and conducts elections for panchayats, block development councils and district development councils.  These responsibilities are discharged by the Chief Electoral Officer in the case of municipalities and municipal corporations.  The Bill designates the said election-related responsibilities to the State Election Commission for all institutions mentioned above.

Furthermore, the State Election Commissioner will be ineligible for appointment or reappointment to any state or central government office in India.   The Bill removes this provision. The Bill amends this to provide that the salary and other conditions of service will be determined by the Lieutenant Governor (LG) of J&K by Rules.  The LG is also given the authority to grant leaves to the State Election Commissioner.

In regards to the provision of pension,  the Bill excludes disability pension received during the previous service from the scope of this provision.   It also permits various allowances available to the State Election Commissioner from his previous service to be extended to him in his tenure.

The Bill as well provides for the removal of the State Election Commissioner. He can only be removed in the same manner and on the same grounds as a High Court judge. The Bill allows the State Election Commission to provide additional grounds for the removal of a person from the electoral roll.

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