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Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies (Amendment) Bill, 2024

Published: 9th Feb, 2024

Context

The Lok Sabha passed Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies (Amendment) Bill, 2024 to provide reservation to other backward classes in local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir, with the government reiterating that the repeal of Article 370 in 2019 has brought important changes in the Union territory and the opposition demanding that statehood be restored and assembly elections held at the earliest.

Key-highlights of the Bill

Nationally, OBCs have been accorded 27% reservation; however, there is no reservation for OBCs in J&K and most OBC communities have been listed under SEBC.

  • Reservation for OBCs: The bill seeks to provide reservation to OBCs in panchayats and municipalities in Jammu and Kashmir and bring consistency in the local body laws of the Union territory with the provisions of the Constitution.
    • With the new amendment, the Centre proposes to replace the term ‘weak and under-privileged classes (social castes)’ with ‘other backward classes’ (OBC) in the Act.
  • Reservation for Valmiki: This bill targets yet another community – the Valmikis. The constitutional amendment seeks to add the Valmiki communityto J&K’s Scheduled Castes list, opening up the 8% reservation. 

Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023

  • Lok Sabha also passed the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023, granting scheduled tribe status to the Pahari people and other communities in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory.
  • The Bill aims at empowering the following by providing Scheduled Tribe status.
    • Pahari Ethnic Group
    • Padari Tribes
    • Koli
    • Gadda Brahmin by providing Scheduled Tribe status.

Reservation Policy in J&K

  • Currently, reservation stands at
    • 8% for SC
    • 10% for STs
    • 4% for social castes
    • 4% for residents along line of actual control/international border
    • 10% for residents in backward areas
    • 4% for Paharis
    • 10% for EWS
    • 6% horizontal reservation for ex-servicemen
    • 4% for physically challenged people

Important Castes and their inclusion in reservation list

  •  While there are no Scheduled Castes listed in the Kashmir Valley, the following groups are listed as Scheduled Tribes — Balti, Bedah, Bot, Boto, Borkpa, Drokpa, Dard, Shin, Changpa, Garza, Mon, Pugapa, Gujjar, Bakerwal, Gaddi and Sippi. Currently these classes are eligible for reservation in J&K.
  • In 2020, the Union territory (UT) government further amended the reservation policy to accord 4% quota to the Pahari community.
  • The government also included 15 new classes under social castes — Waghey (Chopan), Ghirath/Bhati/ Chang, Jat, Saini, Markabans/PonyWalas, Sochi, Christian Biradari (converted from Hindu Valmiki), Sunar/Swarankar Teeli, Perna/Kouro, Bojru/Decount/ Dubdabay Brahmin Gorkans, Gorkhas, West Pakistani refugees and Acharyas — taking the total to 42 social castes, availing 4% reservation

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