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SAC reverses 2016 amendment to Panchayati Raj Act

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Asks authorities to  initiate Panchayat poll process

Srinagar, Jul 12: The State Administrative Council (SAC) which met here today reversed the amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, for conducting elections of Sarpanches of Halqa Panchayats directly by the electorate.

Governor N N Vohra chairing the fourth meeting of the SAC here today along with his Advisors B B Vyas, K Vijay Kumar and Shri Khurshid Ahmad Ganai besides Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam, approved the proposal to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, for conducting elections of Sarpanches of Halqa Panchayats directly by the electorate of Halqa Panchayats and not by indirect method of electing Sarpanches from among the Panches themselves.

This will restore the original position in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, which provided for direct elections of Sarpanches, a position altered by an amendment passed in 2016.

The need for doing this amendment was to restore the primacy and importance of the Sarpanches in the Panchayati Raj System and giving them the necessary legitimacy to be able to discharge their functions, an official press release issued in this regard said.

It said this provides stability in the Panchayati Raj System and ensures accelerated development which meets local needs.

Direct elections also make the Sarpanches accountable directly to the people rather than to an intermediate group. This amendment also brings the spirit of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, the press release said.

It said the SAC also directed the Department of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj to initiate the process of holding elections to Panchayats in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer, J&K.

With the holding of elections to the Panchayats, the institution of local self-governance at the village level will be revived in the state, thereby furthering inclusion and percolation of benefits of decentralized planning at the grass-root level, the press release said, adding that it will also ensure greater participation of people in planning and formulation of area-specific policies and programmes and hence their involvement in decision making process.

Pertinently, the SAC had yesterday also directed the Housing and Urban Development department to initiate the process of holding elections to the municipal bodies in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer of the state.

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