On the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel today, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has formally transitioned into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. With this change, India now has 28 states and 9 Union Territories.The process of transition begins with the swearing-in of the two newly-appointed Lieutenant-Governors in Srinagar and Leh. Among the first changes, the radio stations in Jammu, Srinagar and Leh have been renamed as All India Radio, Jammu; All India Radio, Srinagar; and All India Radio Leh. “Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are taking a step towards a new future today,” PM Narendra Modi said, addressing a gathering in Gujarat to mark the 144th birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Earlier in August, the decades-old special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the constitution was removed by an order from President Ram Nath Kovind and the state was bifurcated into two union territories.
The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, which contains provisions to divide the state into two Union Territories, comes into effect today. Here’s a look at the big changes:
1. Jammu and Kashmir will have elected legislative assembly and council of ministers headed by the chief minister for the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh will not have an Assembly and will be directly governed by the Union Home Ministry through the Lieutenant-Governor. The Indian Constitution and the Indian laws would be applicable in the Union Territories.
2. The strength of the Jammu and Kashmir assembly will be increased by seven seats to 114 from the existing 107 seats. While the strength of the council of ministers will be trimmed to 10 per cent of the total strength of the legislature.
3. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will continue to have five MPs in the Lok Sabha and will have four MPs in the Rajya Sabha. The Union Territory of Ladakh will have one MP.
4. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh will have a common high court. Panchayat would be more powerful under the new arrangement.
5. For recruitment of officers, Ladakh shall come under the ambit of the Union Public Service Commission or UPSC, but Jammu and Kashmir will continue to have Public Service Commission (PSC) as the recruiting agency for the gazetted services.
6. Over 100 central laws will become applicable to Jammu and Kashmir union territory. Ladakh will benefit the most and would get direct funding from the Centre.
7. Through Article 35A of the constitution, only permanent citizens of the state had exclusive rights to own property and apply for government jobs. Now the laws related to ownership of land and property in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be amended and be applicable.
8. The new Jammu and Kashmir Assembly will have a term of five years in place of current six years.
9. The government employees of the new Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — will start getting salaries and other benefits per the recommendations of the seventh Pay Commission.
10. The welfare schemes of the Centre will be applicable to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The state police will come under direct control of the Ministry of Home Affairs.