STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR: A day after the State Administrative Council set in motion the election process for Urban Local Bodies in Jammu and Kashmir, it directed the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj to initiate the process of holding elections to Panchayats in consultation with the Chief Electoral Officer.
The directions came at the 4th meeting of the State Administrative Council (SAC) here, presided over by Governor N. N Vohra. His Advisors B B Vyas, K Vijay Kumar and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai besides Chief Secretary, B.V.R Subrahmanyam were present.
The Governor has been strong votary of holding the Panchayat and ULB elections and he missed no opportunity in emphasising this imperative issue during his meetings with the former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The SAC approved the proposal to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, for conducting elections of Sarpanchs of Halqa Panchayats directly by the electorate of Halqa Panchayats and not by indirect method of electing Sarpanchs from among the Panchs themselves. This will restore the original position in the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 1989, which provided for direct elections of Sarpanchs, a position altered by an amendment passed in 2016.
The need for doing this amendment was to restore the primacy and importance of the Sarpanchs in the Panchayati Raj System and giving them the necessary legitimacy to be able to discharge their functions. This provides stability in the Panchayati Raj System and ensures accelerated development which meets local needs. Direct elections also make the Sarpanchs accountable directly to the people rather than to an intermediate group. Further, this amendment brings the spirit of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act.
With the holding of elections to the Panchayats, the institution of local self-governance at the village level will be revived in the State, thereby furthering inclusion and percolation of benefits of decentralised planning at the grass-root level. It will also ensure greater participation of people in planning and formulation of area specific policies and programmes and hence their involvement in decision making process.
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