Polity and Governance

The implication of Ladakh becoming of a Union Territory

In News Recently, Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill was passed by the Parliament, which divides the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories (UTs). The bill proposed to create union territories for Jammu and Kashmir region and Ladakh region with former having a legislature on the lines of union territories of Delhi and Puducherry and latter on the lines of union territories without legislature like Chandigarh. Background Ladakh came under Dogra rule during the reign of Maharaja Gulab Singh and was incorporated into the State of Jammu and Kashmir in 1846. The region continued to be a part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir after independence in 1947 and was to be administered from Srinagar. Ladakh, one of the Buddhist dominated regions since independence demanded that it directly be governed from New Delhi as a Union territory. The people of the region alleged continued apathy towards their region and corruption of the state government of Jammu and Kashmir for their demand. There were violent riots and demands which led to an agreement between the central and the state governments to grant the status of Autonomous Hill council to Ladakh in October 1993. Accordingly, in 1995, the Ladakh Autonomous hill council was created to address local demands. Other Facts The state of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status through Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. Accordingly, any amendment could have been made by the central government to meet the long-standing demand of the Ladakh region by the concurrence of the state legislature of Jammu and Kashmir. The Parliament recently revoked Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution through a Presidential order and passage of a resolution for the former. The Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation act will be effective from 31st October 2019. Article 370 (now revoked) Article 370 of the Indian constitution gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir allowing it to have a separate constitution, a state flag and autonomy over the internal administration of the state. It also stated that except for matters related to defence, foreign affairs, communications and matters specified in the Instrument of Accession of Jammu and Kashmir, the Parliament needs the state government's ratification for all other laws. Article 35A (now revoked) It was added to the Constitution through a Presidential Order, i.e., The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954 – issued by the President of India on 14 May 1954, under Article 370. It empowered the Jammu and Kashmir state's legislature to define "permanent residents" of the state and provide special rights and privileges to those permanent residents. Implications of the changes (for Ladakh) •All the provisions of the Indian Constitution will be applicable to the geopolitically important Ladakh region. •All the central laws will be applicable automatically to the region. •The Union Territory of Ladakh will consist of two seprate districts Kargil and Leh •Since Ladakh will be a union territory without a legislature the President under Article 240 of the constitution will have the power to make regulations. •Both law and order, and land will be under the direct control of its Lieutenant Governor through whom the Centre will administer the region. •The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common High Court for the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. •Hill council and their grievances will have quick resolutions through central administration. •No separate constitution and state flag are seen as better for the integration of the population with the rest of the country. •More investment from the rest of the country will boost employment in the region. Way forward •Hill council, which is already in place to redress the local problems, should become more accountable and its role should be increased. •Local culture, roots and their traditions should be furthered and preserved. •As it is an ecologically important region there should be a promotion of eco-tourism. •Tourism being a thriving industry in the region, more private investments from outside might damage local population income. To allay such fears centre should make land protection laws.

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