Tony Along with Other DDC Members Meets J&K UT Lt. Governor, Shri Manoj Sinha.
In view of the protest that was staged subsequent to the passing of the order prescribing protocol of the Chairpersons, Vice-Chairperson and members of the DDC in the union territory of J&K; we as the members of DDC’s from all over the Union territory, do put forth this collectively, as our views and demands.
As was intended by the ‘Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act’, Fourth Order, 2020, the members of the DDC were elected through a full-fledged democratic process established under guidelines of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act 1992, which provides constitutional status to the Panchayati Raj institutions. However, the order which was passed did not only undermine the intentions of the Reorganization Act of 2020 and the sanctimonious agenda of the Constitution but also disempowers the DDCs to perform and carry out the functions which are entrusted upon them.
The major issues of contention with the executive order, are as follows: 1. The prescribed protocol is unanimously disagreed upon by near about all the members of the DDCs. It is an absolute insult to the vision of the Honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, which aims to establish a newly envisaged institution of ‘Zila Parishad’ and set it as a pioneer of democratic decentralisation. To demerit such a reformative institutional initiative by disempowering it would undermine its capacity to carry out the functions and responsibilities bestowed upon it by legislative and constitutional mandates.
Hence, the executive order must not act in a manner to undermine or reduce the effect of the constitution. The order reduces and violates the popular, democratic electoral mandate of Chairpersons and Vice-Chairperson.
In comparison to a Mayor who represents a much smaller electoral mandate and is placed equal/above the merit of an MP, the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson have been given a very undermining merit and protocol. The merit and protocol of the Chairperson who has been popularly and democratically elected on a large electoral scale like this should at least be equal if not above the status of a cabinet minister. And the Vice-chairman be equal/above the status of an MoS thereof.
The disparity in the dealing and entrustment of merit and protocols between the Hill council of Ladakh and DDCs of Jammu and Kashmir, while being governed and run by the exact same administration does make the order unfair and unjustified. On what account has Jammu and Kashmir been discriminated against, is perhaps, an issue for readdressed certainly.
The fourth-order of the ‘Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2020’ did give a legislative mandate to the appointment and formation of a District Planning Commission among which the Chairperson of the DDC was to play a crucial role. However, for the fulfilment of such an important role among many others, the awarding of befitting merit and protocol is inherent and goes without saying.
Finally, the basic role and function of the Council as a whole to supervise and coordinate between all the district level departments and their respective workings and initiatives, is not possible when its authority and power is reduced to effect like this. The absence of an office, staff and secretarial assistance, goes against the very intention and purpose of the idea of the third tier of Panchayati raj governance institution. Resolution of the matter:
The above-stated issues lie at the bedrock of the resolution of this whole fiasco. For the readdress of the same, we propose the formation of a ‘Deliberation Committee’ that shall take into account the opinions of the stakeholders i.e. The DDC Members and the civil administration.
Furthermore, this committee shall also look into other pressing demands such as fixation of C.D.F. to the amount of Rs 2 crore annually, to merge the separately proposed District Development Board and District Planning Commission under one umbrella headed by the Chairperson, etc. However, it is our intention and purpose to peacefully find a solution to this issue with no resentful sentiments to ensure smooth functioning between the DDCs and the Civil Administration in the future.