Furore In J&K Houses Over Residents' Bill
23 August 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: Both Houses of the Jammu and Kashmir legislature, now in its summer session here, were adjourned for the day on Monday amidst great commotion over the controversial Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill. While the MLAs limited themselves to verbal duelling, the MLCs went a step ahead hurling abuses and also microphones, files and furniture - unprecedented in the history of the state's legislature. But nobody was hurt and the chairman quickly adjourned the House. Pandemonium stalled Assembly proceedings as soon as question hour began. The Opposition NC members were on their feet to censure the ruling People's Democratic Party for its alleged failure in seeing the Bill through in the upper House. The NC continued with its demand for a discussion on the bill, ahead of other listed business. The Bill, that restricts the right of a woman to acquire immovable property in the state on marrying a non-state- subject, was unanimously passed by the Assembly in March this year but lapsed in the upper House as it could not be put to the vote during the last session of the Legislative Council. The State Subject Law is in force in Jammu and Kashmir since 1927 when it was enacted by Maharaja Hari Singh. The NC accuses the ruling party of deliberately allowing the bill to lapse at the behest of the Centre and coalition partner Congress, which after having voted for it in the Assembly, made a volte face and started opposing the bill in the upper House apparently apprehending an adverse fallout in the Lok Sabha elections. In the Assembly on Monday, the NC members had moved an adjournment motion, which was turned down by Speaker Tara Chand. However, on the persistent demand of the Opposition, he allowed presentation of a report received from the Legislative Council saying that the bill could not be passed within the stipulated time. The Opposition members raised certain objections and stalled the proceedings. Chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed wanted to place the government's viewpoint before the House but was not allowed to speak by members of the Opposition who continued shouting slogans against the government and dubbing him as a villain. The Speaker adjourned the House for half an hour after his repeated pleas failed to calm down the agitating members.