The Centre is examining the option of introducing mandatory requirement of 15-year residency in government jobs, ownership of land, seats in professional and college education in Jammu and Kashmir to allay apprehensions of locals, officials said on Friday. The move came after several organisations in Jammu and Kashmir expressed fears of outsiders grabbing jobs, lands and seats in academic institutions after the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. “We are examining the options of protecting the rights of locals of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir under the state domicile rules,” a home ministry official said. The options include introducing mandatory requirement of 15-year residency in government jobs, ownership of land, seats in professional and college education, the official said.
The special arrangement will be on the lines of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. In the northeastern states like Nagaland, this arrangement is covered under Article 371 of the Constitution. While different states have different residency norms, the central government is planning to introduce a 15-year minimum residency norm for an outsider to attain domicile status in Jammu and Kashmir.
However, this condition may not be applicable for industrial houses to buy land for setting up business ventures and construct quarters for their employees. There is a possibility of providing relaxation to central government employees, who are from other parts of the country but have been living in the two UTs in last five years or more. Also, central officials and their children, and students who are from other states but may have cleared their Class X or Class XII board exams in Jammu and Kashmir or Ladakh may be given residency. Officers from all-India services and their children are considered domicile of their respective cadre states usually but a decision has to be taken on whether to extend the benefits to the AGMUT cadre officers who will be now part of the two UTs.
Incidentally, a similar residency norm was fixed by the last Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh, who issued a notification on June 27, 1932, fixing ten years of continuous residence as a mandatory requirement before “foreign nationals” can purchase immovable property and be considered as Class III state subjects. It says: “The foreign nationals residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir shall not acquire the nationality of the Jammu and Kashmir state until after the age of 18 on purchasing immovable property under permission of an ‘ijazatnama’ and on obtaining a ‘rayatnama’ after ten years continuous residence in the Jammu and Kashmir state as laid down in Notification No.-I-L. of 1984, dated 20th April, 1927.”
However, this provision was altered by the Constituent Assembly in 1954 when it amended the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution Act, 1939, defining permanent residents of the state as any person who, before May 14, 1954, “lawfully acquired immovable property in the state” and “has been ordinarily resident in the state for not less than ten years prior to the date”.
The amendment deprived thousands of refugees from erstwhile West Pakistan, who had settled in Jammu province following the 1947 partition, from becoming permanent residents of the state. These refugees will get domicile status and be eligible to buy land, get jobs and obtain admission in professional colleges in these UTs once the government decides on a new residency norm, another official said.