Government of India’s move to push through Parliament a bill for reservation to economically weak upper caste segment of the population has brought the focus back on a similar piece of legislation cleared by the J&K legislature in 2017.The state cabinet had approved a bill for six percent quota in government jobs and admissions in professional colleges for economically backward sections of the society.
The bill mooted by then social welfare minister Sajjad Gani Lone intended to cater to the population living in urban pockets of the state who were deprived affirmative action benefits.
Legislators cutting across party lines in the Assembly and Legislative Council voted in its favour, terming the legislation as a historic move to provide level-playing field to the poorest of the poor living in urban areas like Srinagar.Subsequently, the bill was sent to Governor NN Vohra for assent by the Law department.However, Vohra raised a number of queries on the bill.
In its communication on 28 March, 2018 Governor’s secretariat sought to know the legal basis of the legislation, asking the government whether an attempt was ever been made to collect data of actual number of families and the conditions or criteria to be taken into account for assessing economic backwardness of the beneficiaries covered by the bill.
The state government was also asked whether any study had been carried out to justify the reservation.Since then the fate of bill is not known and it still remains a mystery whether the government responded to Raj Bhavan’s poser.
A senior official of the Social Welfare Department said the bill was not pending with them.“It can be either lying with Law Department or Raj Bhavan,” he said.
Secretary Law, Achal Sethi and Principal Secretary to Governor Umang Narula did not respond to calls from this reporter.On Wednesday, the Government of India introduced a bill in the Parliament seeking to provide 10 percent reservation to economically backward upper castes.
Former Social Welfare Minister Sajad Gani Lone took to twitter expressing his dismay over keeping the state’s own similar bill in cold storage.
“Reservation for economically backward sections was passed by the J and K Assembly in 2017. I had the privilege as Social Welfare Minister to script the concept and facilitate the passage of the bill in the Assembly. Sadly it is yet to get the assent of the governor,” Lone tweeted.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior official of the Law Department said the bill was still alive.“A bill passed by both Houses but pending assent of the Governor does not lapse on dissolution of the Assembly, “he said, adding all business including bills, motions, resolutions, notices, petitions pending before the House or its committees have lapsed with its dissolution.