Saturday, April 10, 2010

Of Shoaib Sania, and PR bill

Naseer A Ganai ‘
The Permanent Residence (Disqualification) Bill again generated heat with Congress and BJP workers masquerading women rights activists terming it anti-women. They argue how come a woman who marries to a non-State subject stops to be State subject. Her children too continue to be State subject.
The State subject law was enacted by the Maharaja in 1927 to stop the exploitation of the State and its resources from rich neighbors from Punjab and other states by buying property in the State and deprive the locals from the benefits of State subjects.
Interestingly, the notifications were ratified by the State Assembly in 1957. According to 1927 notifications a daughter of permanent resident was losing her State subject on marriage with a non-resident.
In October 2002 the full bench of the High Court in a case, State of Jammu and Kashmir versus Dr Sushila Sawhney said that a daughter for permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will not lose status as permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir on marriage with a person, who is not permanent resident of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, Justice Muzaffer Jan had struck a discord note. He said “I agree with the view that of V.K Jhanji ( the then Chief Justice) only to the extent that a female non-permanent resident of the State on her marriage to the permanent resident of the State will have right to inherit the property in accordance with the personal law of the deceased (in the case). However, I don’t agree to ultimate conclusion that a female will not lose the status as a permanent-resident on her marriage with a non-permanent resident of the State.”
The state government went for appeal against the judgment in the Supreme Court. However, the PDP led government in 2004 withdrew the appeal and moved a bill in the legislative assembly.
The legislators of the State cutting across party lines passed the bill in two minutes. But soon after the passage of the bill ruckus was created as if the Assembly had passed right to cessation bill. The whole media, everybody who is no body spoke against it terming it as violation of women rights.
From Lakhanpore to Kaniyakumari they all spoke against the bill. And when the bill reached the Uppers House it had become national issue. In the Upper House a drama was enacted. The bill didn’t pass. The NC blamed PDP. And PDP blamed NC. The Present Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather was most vocal speaker. He accused PDP of backstabbing the State.
Muzaffer Baig gave eloquent speech both in Council and the Assembly. In the Assembly he defended the bill terming as normal domicile law and said it shouldn’t be construed us versus them. In the council poor Baig was defending weeping Council Chairman Rashid Dar whom NC was accusing of entering into conspiracy to defeat the bill.
After six years again, the bill was brought in the Upper House by PDP in March 2010. It again raised the tempers. The Government didn’t oppose knowing well the Legislative Council will drop it. After almost 15 days the chairman of the Legislative Council said it was constitutional bill and should be introduced in the Assembly. He dropped the bill. And with it the tempers of the BJP, Congress parties too cooled down.
But soon Sania Mirza shocked them by deciding to marry Shoiab of Pakistan. This time they were fuming against Sania. They ask that if she marries Pakistani, how come she will play for India. They say after marrying Pakistani she would be a Pakistani citizen and loses rights of Indian citizen.
"Henceforth, Sania will not remain an Indian. Had her heart been Indian, it wouldn't have beaten for a Pakistani. If she wished to play for India, she should have chosen an Indian life partner," he wrote Bal Thackary in editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece.
There were demonstrations in India, and Mirza's picture was burnt on the streets of Bhopal, where activists from the rightwing Hindu nationalist Vishwa Hindu Parishad party vowed to stop her competing at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi later in the year.
If it is true for Sania, can’t it be true for JK women who marry outside. Why these double standards.
True that number of Kashmiri women marrying outside the State is few. But the PR bill is not about the women rights it is about the political rights of the State. There are apprehensions of demographic change. The passage of the bill would have quelled the fear to some extent. There is impression that the State Assembly has no powers. The passage of the bill would have erased the impression to some extent.
But then it is Jammu and Kashmir State. Here yardsticks are different. Sania’s marriage to Shoiab doesn’t come under purview of women rights. It is different debate. But a daughter of permanent resident of State on marriage to a non-resident of the State becomes women rights issue. Why?
Who is the State subject?
There three definitions ate for State subjects under two notifications issued by Maharaja in 1927 on January 31 and April 20. The terms and subjects are:
First: “All persons born and residing within the State before the commencement of the reign of late Maharaja Gulab Singh and also the persons who settled therein before the commencement of Samvat year 1942 and have since been permanently residing therein.”
2nd: “All persons other than those belonging to Class I who settled within the state before the close of Samvat year 1968, and have since permanently resided and acquired immovable property therein.

3rd: All persons other than those belonging to Class I and II permanently residing within the State, who have acquired under a rayatnama any immovable property therein or who may hereafter acquire such property under an ijazatnama and may execute a rayatnama after ten years’ continuous residence therein.

This notification is to be read subject to the provision contained in Part III of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, section 6 of which is reproduced below:-

Permanent residents—(1) Every person who is, or deemed to be, a citizen of India under the provisions of the Constitution of India shall be a permanent resident of the State, if on the fourteenth day of May, 1954—

(a) He was a state subject of class I or of CLASS II ; or
( b) Having lawful acquired immovable property in the State, he has been ordinarily resident in the State for not less than ten years prior to that date.

(2) Any person who, before the fourteenth day of May, 1954 was a State Subject of Class I or of Class II and who having migrated after the first day of March 1947, to the territory now included in Pakistan, return to the State under a permit for resettlement in the State or for permanent return issued by or under the authority of any law made by the State Legislature shall on such return be a permanent resident of the State.

(3) In this section, the expression “ State Subject of class I or Class II” shall have the same meaning as in the State Notification No. 1-L/84 Dated 20th April, 1927, read with State Notification No. 13-L dated 27th June, 1932.
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