Under Governor, SAC restores direct election of Sarpanchs

The SAC also directed the Department of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj to initiate the process of holding elections to Panchayats in consultation with the state’s Chief Electoral Officer.

Umer Maqbool
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jul 13 2018 1:08AM | Updated Date: Jul 13 2018 1:08AM
Under Governor, SAC restores direct election of SarpanchsFile Photo

The State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by Governor N N Vohra on Thursday reversed the PDP-BJP government’s controversial decision of indirect election for Sarpanchs and amended the law to facilitate direction election for the village body heads. 

The SAC which met here Thursday amended the J&K Panchayati Raj Act-1989 to pave way for direct election of Sarpanchs.

An official spokesman said the SAC approved the proposal to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act for conducting elections of Sarpanchs of Halqa Panchayats directly by the electorate of Halqa Panchayats and not by indirect method of electing Sarpanchs from among the Panchs themselves.

The amendment will restore the original position in the Panchayati Raj Act, which provided for direct elections of Sarpanchs, a position altered by an amendment in 2016.

The SAC also directed the Department of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj to initiate the process of holding elections to Panchayats in consultation with the state’s Chief Electoral Officer.

The move comes a day after the SAC directed Housing & Urban Development Department to initiate the process of holding elections for municipal bodies.

In 2016, then PDP-BJP government passed a bill to hold indirect election for Sarpanchs, departing from the practice of holding direct election for these positions. The bill was passed in the Assembly on July 2, 2016, amid protests by the entire opposition.  

“The bill is a murder of democracy. It will weaken the Panchayati Raj System by scuttling the democratic principles,” the opposition had then alleged.

They had opposed the indirect elections on the grounds that “it will promote horse-trading and corruption” at the grassroots level.

The decision had also evoked widespread criticism from other stakeholders.

Vohra had then also “resisted” the amendments and sought clarifications over them from the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Ministry.

Any law made during Governor’s rule continues to have effect until two years have elapsed from the date on which Governor issues proclamation for assuming the powers of the legislature to make law.

Before the two-year period, the state legislature can also repeal or re-enact the law made during Governor’s rule.

 

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