AIIMS For Jammu Row
The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences Act was enacted by the Parliament of India in the year 1956. I have concluded with my very intensive research (thanks to my friend Zafar Choudhary who prompted me by a query raised by him) that the Parliament has legislative competence to enact on this subject under Entry 64 of the Union List which Entry is applicable to J&K also under the Constitution (Application to J&K) Order, 1954. Under Section 3 of the original Act, the Central Government was empowered to establish “an Institution called the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences”. But the Act was amended in the year 2012 to provide for more than one “All-India Institutes of Medical Sciences” across the country.
The very distinguishing point to note here is that unlike the Central Universities Act, 2009 which originally provided for one Central University in each of the twelve States (mentioned in the First Schedule attached to it) including one for J&K which was later changed into two for only J&K by an amendment in the year 2009 itself, there is no such limitation in the Act which has now been rechristened as All-India Institutes of Medical Sciences Act, 1956 after its amendment in the year 2012. It is worth emphasizing that by virtue of the 2012 amendment, a proviso has been introduced in Section 3 of the original Act which is being reproduced in verbatim hereunder so as to remove all doubts in the minds of the public at large:-
“Provided that the Central Government may, on and after the commencement of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (Amendment) Act, 2012 establish by notification in the Official Gazette, such other All-India Institutes of Medical Sciences at such places as it may specify in the said notification in addition to the existing Institute and the corresponding Institutes.”
Thus the Central Government is competent to announce two full-fledged AIIMS’ in Kashmir and Jammu separately under the existing law itself; and there is no compulsion or even requirement for using cryptic expression “AIIMS-like” for the one agreed to be sanctioned for Jammu. The Central Government being run by BJP should very well understand that the people of Jammu region have high expectations from it considering the fact that BJP has for the first time in its history become a coalition partner in J&K Government. That apart, Kashmir and Jammu are two entirely distinct regions viewed from any perspective, though forming parts of one State, and it needs to be understood that the regional aspirations do not automatically cease to exist merely by the merger of two entirely distinct geographical territories into one administrative unit called J&K State.
It is high time that the reasons should prevail over ignorance and a quick decision is taken in public interest. But one thing cannot be forgotten. The people of the State should not fight a battle merely for raising buildings called AIIMS or whatever; there is a need to ensure proper working of the existing facilities as well which are in bad shape. Overall atmosphere of the State needs to be improved and made work-conducive; otherwise buildings may be there but who will be there to treat the patients?
Sakal Bhushan is a widely known Supreme Court Lawyer and originally hails from Jammu in Jammu and Kashmir. He has a deep and passionate interest in writing on legal issues that have legal ramifications.