Governor Satya Pal Malik Sunday said his administration was not making or considering any changes in the procedures governing issuance of permanent resident certificates (PRCs) in Jammu and Kashmir, hours after former chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote a letter to the Governor over the “sensitive” issue.
Omar shot a letter to Malik following reports that “changes” were being proposed to the rules governing issuance of PRCs.
“My letter to @jandkgovernor on behalf of @JKNC_ placing on record our concern about reports of changes being proposed to the J&K permanent residents certificate rules,” Omar wrote on his Twitter handle, and said that he tried to send the letter through fax, but the machine was not working.
“I’m trying to fax a letter to @jandkgovernor but the fax machine still isn’t working. The operator who answered the phone says the fax operator is on holiday as it’s a Sunday. Will attempt again tomorrow; in the meantime am forced to put the letter out through social media,” Omar said. Responding to Omar’s letter, which the Raj Bhavan said it had received, the Governor Malik wrote: “I have received your letter of December 2, 2018, faxed to my office today. At the outset, I would like to mention that the government is not making or even considering any changes to the Act governing permanent resident certificates in the state. It is an integral part of the legal structure of Jammu and Kashmir and there is no attempt whatsoever to tamper with this law.”
“As for the matters in the rest of your letter, I would like to highlight that no changes in the procedural rules governing the issue of PR certificates will ever be done without larger consultations with all stakeholders,” the Governor said:
“Consultations are essential so as to avoid any unnecessary apprehensions in the minds of anyone. To the best of my knowledge, nothing of the sort is being contemplated at the moment, nor have any decisions been taken. However, in view of the concerns expressed by you, I will assure you that nothing will be done to modify the procedures for issuing PR certificates,” the Governor’s letter reads.
The Governor further wrote that seeking a PRC was one of the services under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act, 2011.
“As per this Act, a PRC by a genuine state subject applicant should be obtained within a period of 30 days from the date of application. It has been observed that many genuine applicants face avoidable difficulties in getting a PRC within these timelines. There have also been complaints that the issuance of these certificates gets delayed due to a variety of procedural reasons. It is in this context of having a hassle-free process for bona-fide applicants that I believe the Revenue department has sought comments from a few others. This is a routine administrative matter and unnecessary meanings should not be read into it,” the letter reads. “As a senior political leader, I would request you not to pay heed to such frivolous and unfounded reports. In fact, you have an obligation to dispel rather than promote unnecessary mistrust among people and are always welcome to discuss issues with me, which you have been doing once in a while”.
“Incidentally”, the Governor wrote, “My fax machine was working and your fax was received and confirmed by my office while you were tweeting that it was not functional”.
Earlier, the Raj Bhavan also clarified that it had received Omar’s letter.
“Raj Bhavan clarifies that letter faxed by Omar Abdullah, former chief minister J&K, was received by the Raj Bhavan and its receipt was confirmed to TanvirSadiq, advisor to Omar Abdullah, at 3:44 PM today,” the governor’s office said.
In his letter, Omar had described the reported directions of Governor Malik in regard to PRCs as “an attempt to distort the demography of the state” and “detrimental to J&K’s special status”.
“We are obligated to write to you at a time when you are mulling changes to the permanent resident certificate rules. Our party, the National Conference, is of the opinion that this is an attempt to distort the demography of the state and finds it detrimental to J&K’s special status,” Omar wrote.
Asserting that the State Administrative Council was “unilaterally bringing changes” in the working of institutions and procedures in the state, the NC leader said it was “against the principal and spirit of democracy and participative governance”.
“The (media) reports say that directions have already been issued to the concerned officials to make changes in the procedure pertaining to the issuance of these certificates,” Omar said. “It is highly unfortunate that no wider consultations with any political party of the state and other stakeholders were carried out.” The NC vice-president said “any misadventure could disturb the fragile and precarious peace” in the sensitive state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“In addition, it is a brazen act to further create mistrust among people here and can have serious ramifications for the prospects of peace and harmony in J&K”, he said. The NC leader also pointed out the timing of the SAC’s reported move.
“The assembly has been dissolved and elections are due within months. This makes the move of your administration open to question as we believe the role of the government is more in the nature of a caretaker government,” he said. “Moreover, this move comes at a time when the state does not have a popularly elected government. The assembly has been dissolved and elections are due within months. This makes the move of your administration unethical,” Omar said in his letter.
He asked the governor to roll-back the decision immediately, saying his party had decided to oppose it.
“We hope that you roll back any decision made in this regard immediately. We also want to convey and register our displeasure and a unanimous decision to oppose this move,” he said. Reports said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration headed by governor Malik was contemplating to “simplify” the procedure for grant of PRCs.
OMAR WELCOMES GOVERNOR’S TIMELY RESPONSE
Soon after Governor’s response to his letter, Omar tweeted: “This is how a mature democracy functions—we flag our concerns with the person in authority and those concerns are addressed. When we can’t meet face to face, we use technology. I am grateful to @jandkgovernor Malik Sb for his timely and detailed reply.”