Srinagar, December 2: Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik asserted Sunday that there was no attempt to tamper with the act governing the permanent resident certificate (PRC) in the state, saying such reports were "frivolous and unfounded". The governor's remarks came in reply to a letter by National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah earlier in the day, expressing concern over the reports of changes proposed to the procedure of granting permanent residence certificates in the state.
In reply to Abdullah's letter, Malik said his administration is not making, or even considering, any changes to the act. "At the outset, I would like to mention that the government is not making or even considering any changes to the act governing Permanent Resident Certificate in the state. It is an integral part of the legal structure of Jammu and Kashmir and there is no attempt whatsoever to tamper with this law," the governor wrote in a letter to the NC vice-president. Malik said no changes in the procedural rules governing the issue of PR certificates would ever be done without larger consultations with all stakeholders. Satya Pal Malik Says Delhi Wanted Him to Make Sajjad Lone CM of J&K, Backtracks.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) December 2, 2018
"Consultations are essential so as to avoid any unnecessary apprehensions in the minds of anyone. To the best of my knowledge, nothing off the sort is being contemplated at the moment nor have any decisions been taken. However, in view of the concerns expressed by you, I will assure you that nothing will be done to modify the procedures for issuing PR certificates," he said. The governor said seeking a PRC is one of the services under Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Guarantee Act of 2011 and as per the act, a PRC by a genuine state subject applicant should be obtained within 30 days from the date of application.
He, however, said it was observed that many genuine applicants face avoidable difficulties in getting a PRC within this timeline. "There have also been complaints that the issuance of the certificates gets delayed due to a variety of procedural reasons. It is in this context of having a hassle free process for bona-fide applicants that I believe the Revenue department has sort comments from few others. This is a routine administrative matter and unnecessary meaning should not be read into it," Malik said. Malik asked Abdullah to not pay heed to "such frivolous and unfounded reports".
"In fact you have an obligation to dispel rather than promote unnecessary mistrust among people and are always welcome to discuss issues with me, which you have been doing once in a while," he said in the letter to Abdullah. He also pointed out that the fax machine at Raj Bhavan was working and Abdullah's fax had been received and confirmed by his office "while you (Abdullah) were tweeting that it was non-functional". Abdullah had said the fax machine was not working.
In his response to the governor's letter, Abdullah said he was grateful to Malik for his timely and detailed reply and also pleased to note that no changes were being proposed to the PRC rules. "Fax received from @jandkgovernor Malik Sahib which I'm sharing here. I'm pleased to note no changes are being proposed to the PRC certificate rules," Abdullah wrote on Twitter. "This is how a mature democracy functions — we flag our concerns with the person in authority & those concerns are addressed. When we can't meet face to face we use technology. I'm grateful to @jandkgovernor Malik Sb for his timely & detailed reply," he said in another tweet.
He said he believed a regular mechanism of discussion and consultation would be beneficial to the state as it moves closer to elections. "@jandkgovernor Malik Sb's assurance of consultation with stake holders is an important one. I believe a regular mechanism of discussion/consultation will be beneficial to the state as we move closer to elections," the former chief minister said. Earlier, Abdullah in the letter to the governor, said his party would oppose any move aimed at changing the procedure for granting the PRCs in the state. Senior BJP leader Kavinder Gupta had said the state administration was contemplating to simplify the procedure for grant of PRCs and a timeline should be fixed for its issuance.
Abdullah described the reported directions of the Governor-led state administrative council (SAC) in this regard as "an attempt to distort the demography of the state" and "detrimental to J-K's special status". "We are obligated to write to you at a time when you are mulling changes to the permanent resident certificate rules. Our party, the National Conference, is of the opinion that this is an attempt to distort the demography of the state and finds it detrimental to J&K's special status," Abdullah had said in the letter to the governor. Asserting that the SAC was "unilaterally bringing changes" in the working of institutions and procedures in the state, the NC leader said it was against the principal and spirit of democracy and participative governance.
"The (media) reports say that directions have already been issued to the concerned officials to make changes in the procedure pertaining to the issuance of these certificates," he said.
"It is highly unfortunate that no wider consultations with any political party of the state and other stakeholders were carried out," he added. He said "any misadventure could disturb the fragile and precarious peace" in the sensitive state. "In addition, it is a brazen act to further create mistrust among people here and can have serious ramifications for the prospects of peace and harmony in J&K," Abdullah said.