J&K to Get OBC Reservation in Local Body Elections

New Delhi: The Union Government on Monday introduced the Jammu and Kashmir Local Bodies Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2024, in the Lok Sabha, aiming to reserve seats for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Municipal and Panchayat elections in the region.

The Bill proposes to grant powers to the State Election Commissioner for conducting these elections, shifting from the current authority held by the Chief Electoral Officer of Jammu and Kashmir. The amendment aligns existing laws with constitutional provisions, addressing the absence of OBC seat reservations in the Union Territory.

Jammu and Kashmir, now a Union Territory since August 2019, lacks provisions for OBC reservations in Panchayats and Municipalities under current legislation. The Bill seeks to rectify this, ensuring justice for OBC citizens after 75 years of independence. It aligns local bodies laws in Jammu and Kashmir with constitutional requirements, promoting consistency.

Apart from introducing OBC reservations, the Bill empowers the State Election Commissioner in conducting Municipal and Municipal Corporation elections, a shift from the current role held by the Chief Electoral Officer. Additionally, the Bill modifies the process for removing the State Election Commissioner, aligning it with constitutional parameters rather than the existing provisions in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989.

The proposed changes address discrepancies between the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act and constitutional provisions, ensuring a more coherent and constitutionally sound electoral framework. This move is significant for the Union Territory’s democratic process, marking a step towards inclusive representation in local bodies.

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