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Neither making, nor considering any changes to PRC: Governor

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NC, Congress, PC say changes ‘unacceptable’; Omar Abdullah shoots letter to Guv Malik

JAMMU, DECEMBER 02: Terming the reports of Governor-led State administration contemplating to simplify the procedure for grant of permanent resident certificates (PRCs) as frivolous, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has made it clear that the State Government was neither making nor 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 & Kashmir and there is no attempt whatsoever to tamper with this law,” Governor said in a communication addressed to the former Chief Minister and National Conference Vice-President Omar Abdullah.

Pertinently, earlier during the day, Omar Abdullah had, in a letter, addressed to the Governor highlighted some media reports that the Governor’s Administration was planning changes in the procedure for granting PRCs. Omar had sought rollback of, if any decision, taken in this regard.

Governor has in his detailed reply to Omar Abdullah reiterated that no changes in the procedural rules governing the issue of PR certificates will ever be done without larger consultations with all stakeholders. “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,”  Governor said.

“I may like to point out here to you that seeking a PRC is one of the services under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Services Guarantee Act of 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 communication states adding; “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.”

Earlier in the day, the reports about the Governor-led State administration contemplating to simplify the procedure for grant of permanent resident certificates (PRCs), has snowballed into a major controversy with mainstream groups including National Conference, Peoples Conference and Congress vowing to oppose any change in the procedures in vogue.

While the National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah said his party would oppose any move aimed at changing the procedure for granting permanent resident certificates (PRCs) in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress said changes will be “unacceptable”. Peoples Conference (PC) chief Sajad Gani Lone advised the Governor’s administration to restrict itself to “basic governance”.

Omar Abdullah described the reported directions of Governor Satya Pal Malik-led State Administrative Council (SAC) in this regard as “an attempt to distort the demography of the state” and “detrimental to J-K’s special status”.

Earlier, senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta had said the State administration was contemplating to simplify the procedure for grant of PRCs and a timeline should be fixed for its issuance under the Public Services Guarantee Act.

“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,” Abdullah said in a letter to the Governor, which he shared on social media as he could not fax it to the Raj Bhawan as the fax machine there was allegedly again not working.

Asserting that the SAC 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,” Abdullah said.

“It is highly unfortunate that no wider consultations with any political party of the state and other stakeholders were carried out,” he added.

The former chief minister 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,” Abdullah 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,” Abdullah said.

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.

The Jammu and Kashmir Congress and People’s Conference also said any changes in the procedure for granting PRCs in the state would be “unacceptable”.

“Any changes to the PRC (rules) are unacceptable to the Congress party,” a party spokesperson said here.

The Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee warned that any changes to the PRC rules would not be in the state’s interest and would have serious implications.

“This step will invent another problem in the state which has to be avoided in the larger interests of peace,” the Congress spokesperson said.

He said as the State Legislative Assembly has been dissolved, the Governor-led administration “has no mandate to interfere in the constitutional matters of the state.”

People’s Conference chief Sajad Gani Lone said the administration should restrict itself to basic governance.

“The governor administration needs to restrict itself to basic governance. No structural changes pertaining to PRC or J&K Bank are acceptable. Restrict your energies to what u r (you are) mandated to do — which incidentally u r (you are) not doing. Please don’t invent new problems,” Lone wrote on Twitter.

PDP youth wing president Waheed Para said on Twitter, “Dissolution of Assembly, Revocation of Roshni Act, Amending SHRC, JKB and now fiddling with PRC – one fails to understand the idea behind all this. What’s going on?”

Article 35-A of the Constitution empowers the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly to define ‘permanent residents’ of the state who are eligible for special rights and privileges, which the Legislature can provide.

The Supreme Court is currently hearing a bunch of petitions seeking abrogation of the legislation, which was added by a Presidential Order in 1954 through Article 370 of the Constitution.

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