ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Domicile Law of Jammu and Kashmir

Fears of Demographic Change

The domicile law introduced in the newly created union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has aggravated the already deteriorating situation. The policy is a result of a historical, political and policy myopia of the current dispensation, which has failed to understand the significance of the earlier permanent residency laws for different communities across the erstwhile state of J&K. It has evoked fear of demographic change, loss of economic and cultural rights and has engineered profound changes in the political structure of the region.

On 5 August 2019, the Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was rendered, legally speaking, ‘‘inoperative.’’ This ideologically driven action of the current ruling dispensation stripped Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) of its special status. Truth be told, the consti­tutio­nal aspects of this special status, which were supposed to provide a degree of shared sovereignty to J&K, were completely hollowed out long ago. The legal safeguards enshrined in the Article 35A of the Constitution, was all that was left (Raghavan 2019). This accrued certain privileges to the inhabitants of J&K, allowing them exclusive rights over immovable property, jobs, scholarships and other allied rights. The revocation of the special status ended these privileges to the ‘‘permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.’’

Although there is a section of the ­society that had a favourable view ­towards the abrogation of Article 370, the concerns over loss of privileges as permanent residents and a demand to provide an alternative safeguard, was unanimous. The union government assured of a substitute and came up with a policy through executive order on 1 April 2020. This was called the domicile policy of J&K, which replaced the earlier category of permanent residents with domiciles. The law has come under serious criticism for lack of any serious safeguard and its hasty implementation during these times of pandemic. Conversely, the policy has evoked a palpable fear of demographic change and significantly reoriented the political contours of the region. In addition to the tendency of the present government to push through laws and amendments unilaterally, even without a façade of consultations, the law suffers from a convenient neglect of the history of the earlier laws of permanent residency.

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Updated On : 26th Sep, 2020
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