In a significant development, Jammu and Kashmir Cabinet, which met under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday, approved extension of provision of 73rd amendment of Indian constitution to Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, fulfilling a long-pending demand of the Congress.
“The Cabinet has approved amendments to various sections of the Panchayati Raj Act to accommodate various demands within the overall frame work of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Raj Act 1989,” an official spokesman said.
He said the Cabinet gave consent to incorporate 73rd amendment of Indian constitution into J&K Panchayati Raj Act.
He said the amendments provide for the election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of a District Planning and Development Board by the members of the board from among themselves.
“The amendments also provide for the Chairman of a Block Development Council to be elected by the Sarpanchs and Panchs of the concerned block from among themselves”.
The spokesman said the amendments also provides for reservation in respect of SC and ST categories to the extent of their population in specific constituency and to the extent of 33 per cent for women.
“The amendment also provides for reduction in the age of candidates for contesting elections for the positions of Panchs and Sarpanchs from 25 to 21 years,” he said.
The incorporation of 73rd amendment of Indian Constitution into J&K Panchayati Raj was the long-pending demand of the state Congress, which is a coalition partner of ruling National Conference in the state.
The state Congress leaders, including J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief and MP Saif-ud-Din Soz, Union Health Minister and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had been pressing for incorporation of 73rd amendment of Indian constitution to Jammu and Kashmir.
Even Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and party’s incharge J&K Affairs Ambika Soni had been pressing for implementing the 73rd amendment in Jammu and Kashmir. The inclusion of 73rd amendment in J&K Panchayati Raj Act would give panchayats in the state autonomy in planning and execution of development work and utilization of funds.