July 2016 News

Kashmir To Allow Indirect Election Of Sarpanches

2 July 2016

Srinagar: Amidst protests and walkout by the Opposition parties, Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council on Saturday passed an amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act, allowing indirect election of Sarpanches by Panches instead of a direct election. The government moved a Bill to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989 in the Upper House, which was opposed by the Congress and the National Conference legislators who termed the amendment as a step to 'discredit and dis-empower' the Panchayati Raj Institutes in the State. However, the government defended the amendment, saying it was the procedure at highest level of governance at the State and the Central government. Congress MLC Ghulam Nabi Monga, who was elected to the Upper House on Panchayat quota, said the amendment was 'murder of democracy' at the grassroots level. 'Chance for horse-trading' 'This will make way for horse-trading and also dilute power of panchayats. The powers of these institutions have been diluted and this amendment will further weaken them,' he said, adding the direct elections hold sarpanches accountable to people. The members from the opposition trooped into the Well of the House, protesting against the amendment. Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Abdul Haq Khan said such a system was in place till 1996 and the system never failed. 'The election of sarpanches by electorate has created a problem in the field as it has been found that in larger number of cases there is a rift between panches and sarpanches. Sarpanches get elected directly and there is lack of confidence from the panches on him and vice versa which hampers the process of implementation of various schemes on the ground level and accordingly it has been felt to amend the provision of the Act,' the Minister said as opposition members continued their protest. As Chairman of the Legislative Council Anayat Ali put the motion to vote and the Bill was passed by voice vote, the entire Opposition staged a walkout from the House as a mark of protest.