July 2018 News

Decks Cleared For Panchayat Polls In Jammu And Kashmir

12 July 2018

Srinagar: Decks have been cleared for holding the Panchayat elections in Jammu and Kashmir after the governor administration approved the proposal to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, on Thursday. Under the amendment, the elections of Sarpanches of Halqa Panchayats will be conducted directly by the electorate of Halqa Panchayats and not by indirect method of electing Sarpanches from among the Panches themselves. 'This will restore the original position in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, which provided for direct elections of Sarpanches, a position altered by an amendment passed in 2016', said an official spokesman. The decision to approve the amendment was taken in the 4th meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) chaired by J&K Governor N N Vohra on Thursday, Governor's advisors B B Vyas, K Vijay Kumar and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai besides Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam attended the meeting. 'The SAC also directed the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to initiate the process of holding elections to Panchayats in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K', said the spokesman. Panchayat polls are being held in Jammu and Kashmir after a two-year delay. Elections were scheduled to be held in 2016 but due to the unrest post Burhan Wani killing the grass-root democratic exercise were delayed indefinitely. Seen as one of the biggest achievement of the Omar Abdullah government, the Panchayat elections were last held in 2011 after 33 years hiatus in Jammu and Kashmir. More than 80 per cent people had defied militants and cast their votes in the panchayat elections in 2011. More than 33000 panchayat representatives were elected in the polls across the state in 2011 The spokesman noted that the need for the amendment was aimed at restoring the primacy and importance of the Sarpanches in the Panchayati Raj System and giving them the necessary legitimacy to be able to discharge their functions 'This provides stability in the Panchayati Raj System and ensures accelerated development which meets local needs. Direct elections also make the Sarpanches accountable directly to the people rather than to an intermediate group. Further, this amendment brings the spirit of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act', he said. The spokesman said after holding of elections to the Panchayats, the institution of local self-governance at the village level will be revived in the state, thereby furthering inclusion and percolation of benefits of decentralized planning at the grass-root level.