The issuance of domicile certificate to Navin Choudhary triggered vehement criticism from residents of Jammu and Kashmir, who saw this law as a bid to divest local youth from the government jobs
On 1st of September, two senior most Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers on behalf of Jammu and Kashmir government appeared before the media and announced that newly launched domicile certificate is only for applying for jobs and it doesn’t confer any rights to acquire land in the Union Territory, but there was no clarification about the utility of this certificate for a senior IAS officer.
The Jammu and Kashmir authorities have issued, as many as, 12.5 lakh domicile certificates under a new law. “The new domicile certificates were only for applying for jobs and do not confer rights to own land in J&K,” Principal Secretary Revenue, Pawan Kotwal, told reporters. He also said that those holding domicile certificates would not be included in the voters’ list in the Union Territory either.
Having said that domicile certificate is only for applying for jobs in Jammu and Kashmir, the government did not tell why Navin Kumar Choudhary, a senior J&K-cadre officer from Bihar who has been posted in the region since 1990s was issued a domicile certificate.
“Navin became the first bureaucrat from outside Jammu and Kashmir to get a domicile certificate, but what would be its utility for the officer is unclear,” said a political expert, adding that when the certificate was issued to Navin, there was huge controversy in the erstwhile State.
The emergence of an IAS officer’s domicile certificate on social media created controversy in Jammu & Kashmir, bringing to the fore local concerns about the government’s August 2019 decision to scrap Article 370 and Article 35A.
“The issuance of domicile certificate to Navin Choudhary triggered vehement criticism from residents of Jammu as well as Kashmir, who saw the new domicile law, brought into force in April, as a bid to divest residents from local government jobs,” said experts.
Despite repeated attempts, Navin Choudhary was not available for comments regarding the utility of domicile certificate for him.
Earlier, government spokesman Rohit Kansal sought to clarify that 99 percent of new domicile certificates were issued to those residents of J&K who were already holding ‘state subject certificates’ under a 1927 law or (including) Kashmiri Pandit migrants. The old ‘state subject’ law was replaced by the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules, 2020, enacted in April this year, eight months after the state was stripped of its special status and split up into two Union Territories by the Centre.
Kansal who is J-K’s Principal Secretary Power Development and Information Departments said that among the new beneficiaries who were not permanent residents of the state include 11,398 refugees from erstwhile West Pakistan, 415 members of Valmiki Samaj (sweepers) and 10 of those belonging to Gorkha community besides 12, 340 registered migrants.
Asserting the government has accelerated the issuance of domicile certificates, he said, “The process of issuance of domicile certificates is picking up rapidly and certificate issuance is being monitored regularly”.
Kansal said that possessing domicile under the new law is the basic eligibility condition for appointment to any post under the UT of J-K following amendments in the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services (Decentralization and Recruitment) Act, 2010. He, however, reassured on behalf of the government that the rules provide a simple and time bound procedure for the issuance of the domicile certificate “so that no one is put to any inconvenience, besides there are provisions for time bound issuance for certificates including an appellate authority whose orders will be binding as well as who has revisional powers”.
Under the new domicile law, all those persons and their children who have resided in J-K for fifteen years or studied for seven years and appeared in class 10th or 12th examination in an educational institution in the UT are eligible for grant of domicile. Children of Central government officials, All India service officers, officials of PSUs and autonomous bodies of Central government, public sector banks, officials of statutory bodies, Central universities and recognized research institutes of the Central Government, who have served in J-K for a total period of ten years can also be issued domicile certificates.
Besides, all those migrants and their children who are registered with Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner are being granted the domicile certificate. Children of those residents of J-K who reside outside the UT in connection with their employment or other professional or vocational reasons have also become eligible for grant of domicile status.