Sudden scrapping of PRC for new certificate irks J&K’s old domiciles

Zafar Choudhary. Updated: 5/22/2020 1:14:46 PM Front Page

JAMMU: Initial reactions to the newly notified rules for obtaining domicile certificate in Jammu and Kashmir are along the expected political fault-lines but getting the whole of population to obtain the document afresh has not gone down well even with the staunchest supporters of the abrogation of special status.
On Monday the UT administration issued a new set of rules called Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules 2020 defining who was qualified to be a competent authority to issue such certificate, the time frame within which the domicile can be issued and also, surprisingly, the punishment awarded to the concerned official who fails to furnish the domicile on time.
The rules and the corresponding eligibility criteria sets out that one can obtaine Domicile Certificate by presenting the existing hereditary state subject certificate, official called as the Permanent Residents Certificate (PRC). Whether Domicile Certificate is for new category of domiciles and PRC could continue as legal resident status document for the existing residents was still a matter of interpretation that government came up with clarification.
Through an additional circular the General Administration Department has made it clear that students applying for admissions will have to present Domicile Certificates and not the PRC. The clarification makes it abundantly clear that all hereditary residents of Jammu and Kashmir will show their PRC for one last time to obtain the Domicile Certificate. This brings the whole population of Jammu and Kashmir, including those who wholeheartedly supported the constitutional changes, to queues for obtaining their resident documents afresh.
The critics and supporters of the constitutional changes appear to be on the same page across the Union Territory in their criticism of government’s decision on scrapping the PRC altogether. While unaffiliated citizens have expressed their ire through different means including on the social media, the regional political parties have rejected the new rules in their entirety, it is not surprising to see that even the BJP is also not comfortable with Domicile Certificate replacing PRC all of a sudden.
While a number of BJP leaders desired not to be named while summerising their opinion, the former Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh has placed his ‘objection’ on record. Nirmal Singh has urged the UT administration to consider the PRC as Domicile Certificate “in view of the problems faced by students to get admissions in different technical and educational institutions”. Singh said that “to get the Domicile Certificates of 1.3 Crore population of Jammu and Kashmir is a lengthy and time consuming process. In such circumstances it will be difficult for the different categories of aspirants those who wants to apply for the jobs, admissions etc. in the absence of recently notified Domicile certificates”.
On Wednesday, the General Administration Department of Jammu and Kashmir government asserted that the Domicile Status Certificate ia an eligibility condition for admission to Educational Institutions in Jammu and Kashmir.
The GAD circular said that consequent upon ‘Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020, vide 5.0 166 dated 18th of May, 2020’ “it has been decided that the requirement of 'Permanent Resident Certificate' wherever prescribed for admission into Educational Institutions shall be replaced with 'Domicile Certificate'. The Circular further advises all Administrative Secretaries to immediately effect changes in statutes/rules wherever there exists prescribed requirement of 'Permanent Resident Certificate' for admission in Educational Institutions”.
The circular also stated that “With the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, series of constitutional changes have been affected. In terms of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Removal of Difficulties) Order, 2019, any reference by whatever form to "permanent residents of the State or hereditary State subject", wherever they occurred in any Act or notification issued or rules, orders made thereunder, stands omitted with necessary grammatical variation.”
Any tehsildar in Jammu and Kashmir who fails to issue a domicile certificate to applicants on time may attract punishment of having to forfeit up to Rs 50,000 from their salary.

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