Jammu and Kashmir to amend panchayati raj act

Jammu : The Jammu and Kashmir cabinet headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Saturday decided to incorporate important provisions of the 73rd constitutional amendment in the state’s Panchayati Raj Act to empower elected village representatives.

The state will now have a separate finance and election commission besides ensuring reservations for women and weaker sections of the society in panchayats across the state.

The amendment also makes holding of the panchayat elections mandatory every five years.

After the amendment is incorporated by the state legislature, chairmen of block development councils and district development and planning boards would have to be elected by the panches and sarpanches.

The 73rd constitutional amendment could not automatically become applicable to Jammu and Kashmir because it has its own constitution which is applicable here concomitantly with the country’s constitution.

State Congress president Saif-ud-Din Soz has welcomed the decision as the Congress party had been pressing for extending the 73rd constitutional amendment to the state.

During a visit to the state last year, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had also promised elected members of the village panchayats that his party would ensure that the 73rd constitutional amendment, which is essentially for empowering the elected village representatives, was extended to the state.