October 2020 News

Centre: Directly Elected District Development Councils For Jammu And Kashmir

18 October 2020
The Tribune

Srinagar: With the Assembly yet to be constituted for the newly carved out union territory (UT), the Centre has made required legal changes in the Panchayati Raj Act to enable direct elections for the creation of the District Development Council (DDC), which will take up various development works at the local level. Each of the DDC, which is seen as a new power block at the grassroots, will have 14 territorial constituencies from where members will be elected directly by the residents of the electoral area. Some of the seats will be reserved for the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and women, officials in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said. This is an order to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla nearly a year after the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of Constitution and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two UTs. After the August 5, 2019 development, Ladakh became a union territory. Jammu and Kashmir too was reduced from a state to a union territory, but with a legislature. The Centre had also announced the delimitation process to be carried out in the newly carved out UT of J&K for reworking the constituencies. The Delimitation Commission, set up in March, is headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Ranjana Desai. The MHA officials said the decision to form the DDC was taken to give people participation in the development processes, as it was earlier given to the elected representatives of the Assembly. As per the fresh executive order for Jammu and Kashmir, which has been under direct rule of the Centre since November 2018, every DDC will consist of directly elected members from territorial constituencies in the district, chairpersons of all Block Development Councils of the district. Once the Assembly elections are held, members of the Legislative Assembly whose constituencies lie within the district will also be the DDC members. Immediately after taking oath or affirmation of allegiance, the elected members of a DDC shall, in the prescribed manner, elect from amongst themselves the chairperson and the vice-chairperson of the council. All members of the DDC, whether or not elected by direct election from territorial constituencies in the district, shall have the right to vote in the council's meetings. However, in case of election or removal of the chairman and vice-chairman only the directly elected members will have the right to vote, the order said. The Additional District Development Commissioner will be the Chief Executive Officer of the DDC, it added. The DDC, which will have five-year term, will have jurisdiction over the entire district excluding municipality or municipal corporation areas, it said. The DDC will replace the district development boards, which earlier, when Jammu and Kashmir was a state, were chaired by a Cabinet Minister or a Minister of State and included MLAs and MPs.