Regional Autonomy Committee Report
Jammu, April 13, 1999
The foregoing discussion leads this Committee to conclude that
there is a strong case for the decentralisation of political and
economic power which can be achieved through autonomy of the regions
in the State. In this regard two objectives of ensuring the self-governance
and rapid human development are central to the concept of autonomy.
However, before any specific recommendations are made in this regard,
it is relevant to define the regions within the State. This issue
is basic to the political and economic empowerment of the people.
MAPPING THE REGIONS
The mapping of regions in Jammu & Kashmir is a complex task.
The tribal attack from Pakistan which resulted in a part of the
State going into the occupation of that country has further added
to the complexities.
This Committee, through its interactions and memorandums submitted
to it, has reached the conclusion that administrative division of
the State have given erroneous impression that these constituted
the actual regions of the State. It was pointed out that Ladakh
has been declared administratively a part of Kashmir province. However,
from any standard it cannot be considered as Kashmir region. It
was equally argued that Jammu province comprised 22 former principalities,
each having distinct historical background cannot be declared as
a single homogeneous region. It was also represented that latest
SRO-126 dated 28-06-1994 issued by the Jammu & Kashmir Government
as a sequel to Justice A.S. Anand Committee Report, which was constituted
to look into the social and educational backwardness of Doda district,
declared 562 villages out of 655 villages as backward. It was validly
argued that hilly regions of the Jammu province, which were ethnically
and even agro-climatically different from each other, faced different
problems due to the specific regions could not be uniformly applied
at the provincial level. The Committee feels that his logic applies
to Kashmir province including Ladakh also.
This Committee feels that there is dire urgency of defining the
regions/province in the State to achieve the twin objective of self-governance
and rapid social development. The Committee is of the opinion that
the prevailing classification of Provinces/Divisions are hampering
the processes of social/human development. The Committee is also
of the view that this arrangement is coming in the way of democratic
participation at the grassroots level within the State. Thus, in
view of historical, social, ethnic and development factors, this
Committee recommends that the existing two Provinces/Divisions of
Jammu & Kashmir should be classified into eight new regions/provinces.
The Committee, therefore, recommends reconstituting Regions/Provinces
1. Kamraz (Baramulla and Kupwara Districts)
2. Nundabad (Budgam and Srinagar Districts)
3. Maraz (Anantnag and Pulwama Districts)
4. Chenab Valley (Doda District and Tehsil Mahore)
5. Jammu (Jammu, Kathua & Udhampur [excluding Tehsil Mahore
and Rajouri Districts)
6. Pir Panchal (Poonch and Rajouri Districts)
7. Ladakh (Leh District)
8. Kargil (Kargil District)
This classification has been documented in detail in the annexure
'A' to this report.
REGIONAL/PROVINCIAL COUNCILS (MODEL-1)
This experiment of regional/provincial autonomy will be the first
of its kind in the country. Some guidelines regarding the constitution,
elections and the subjects to be allocated to these Councils may
be provided by District and Hill Councils established elsewhere
in the country.
This Committee recommends the establishment of Regional/Provincial
Councils in the State to meet the requirement of devolution of power
to different Regions/Provinces in the State. This Regional/Provinces
Council may be set up according to the classification of Regions/Provinces
as provided in the Annexure 'A' to this report.
The Regional/Provincial Councils should be elected in the same
manner in which the state legislature is elected. The delimitation
of the constituencies should be carried out by the State Election
Commission constituted for this purpose. The number of constituencies
should be determined in a manner that at least two members from
each Block are elected to the Council according to the constituencies
delimited for this purpose. There should be a reservation of 25%
seats for women in the Council. The leader of the majority party
so elected in the Region/Province shall head the Regional/Provincial
Council and be designated as Chief Executive Councillor. He/She
shall have the status of Ministers of the State. He/She shall
not have more than four Executive Councillors to aid and assist
The establishment of Regional/Provincial Councils shall, in no
way, affect the institutions of the State, viz; Governor, Chief
Minister and his Cabinet, Legislative Assembly, Judiciary and
State cadre of services. These institutions shall continue as
The Regional/Provincial Councils shall enjoy the executive and
taxation powers which should be limited to the subjects allocated
to the Council. These subjects should be allocated keeping in
view the specificities of Jammu & Kashmir State. In this behalf,
the experience of District Councils established elsewhere in the
country could provide some guidance. However, this matter needs
to be examined carefully by a Committee of Experts which may be
constituted separately. There is equally a need to amend the State
Constitution which would define the powers of the Councils as
well as provide the mechanism for transferring of items from one
list to another, i.e. from the State to Regional/Provincial list
or vice versa. There is also need to evolve a mechanism to deal
with the situation where the Regional/Provincial Council has lost
the majority, or has failed to carry on its functions within the
provisions of the State Constitution, or is working against the
interests of the State or the Country.
It is well recognize that political autonomy is tethered to financial
autonomy. However, as observed elsewhere, that this would be the
first ever experiment of this nature in the country, the selection
of subjects to be dealt with by the Regional/Provincial Councils
and the areas of allocation of funds and powers of taxation etc.
need to be worked out carefully. It is equally a fact that different
Regional/Provincial of the State do not face uniform problems.
For instance, the development problems of Nundabad Region and
the problems of Maraz are not the same. In the same vein, the
development problems which these Regions/Provinces face are not
similar to the problems in Chenab Valley Region. This Committee
is of the view that the basic objective of regional autonomy is
to replace the mechanisms and processes of centralized decision
making in governance and development by decentralized institutions
which would hamper social development in the Regions/Provinces.
This Committee is of the view that patterns of financial autonomy
of Panchayati Raj institutions as prevailing in Karnataka, West
Bengal and Kerala be further studied and a model for the financial
autonomy of the Regional/Provincial Councils be evolved. An Experts
Committee may be constituted to propose a model for a financial
autonomy for the Councils.
DISTRICT COUNCILS (MODEL-II)
This Committee is aware of the commitment of the Government in
the State towards promoting better involvement and participation
of people in different regions for a balanced political, economic,
social, cultural and educational development. In this behalf, as
discussed and proposed in foregoing paras of this report, the Regional/Provincial
Councils would be the ideal institutions to achieve these objectives.
The Committee has suggested in its Approach Paper that more than
one approach may be adopted in dealing with the issue of internal
autonomy in the State. The Committee is of the view that this
alternative approach may also be spelled out for the consideration
of alternative approach may also be spelled out for the consideration
of the Government. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the
Government may consider setting up District Councils as an alternative
to the Regional/Provincial Councils. In view of the experience
of District Councils elsewhere in the country, the Committee feels
that these Councils in coordination with Panchayati Raj institutions
can be effective agents in augmenting the processes leading to
faster pace of human development, besides providing effective
organs of local self government. The State has been a forerunner
in introducing the concept of 'District Planning' by initiating
'Single Line Administration' in the year 1976. The system was
introduced to meet the aspirations of common man by making the
planning more effective and ensuring speedy implementation of
development programmes. In order to further democratise the system,
the District Development Commissioners were replaced by Ministers
of the Cabinet as chairpersons of District Development Boards.
The Committee is of the view that this experiment has been quite
fruitful. The establishment of District Councils shall, drawing
upon this experience, completely democratise the processes of
planning and development at the District level.
The Committee, therefore, recommends that in case this model of
internal autonomy is accepted, suitable amendment in the Constitution
of the State should be carried out.
The District Councils may be established in the existing districts
of the entire Jammu & Kashmir State.
The District Councils should be elected in the same manner in which
the State Legislature is elected. The delimitation of the constituencies
should be carried out by the State Election Commission constituted
for this purpose. The number of constituencies should be determine
in a manner that at least two members from each Block are elected
from the constituencies delimited for this purpose. There should
be a reservation of 25% seats for women in the Council. The leader
of the majority party in the Council shall be designated as Chief
Councillor and shall have the status of Minister of the State. He/She
shall have not more than four Executive Councillors to aid and assist
The District Councils shall enjoy the executive and taxation powers
which should be limited to the subjects allocated to the Council.
These subjects should be allocated keeping in view the specificities
of Jammu and Kashmir State. In this regard, the experience of District
Councils functioning elsewhere in the country could provide some
guidance. The Committee also recommends that an Experts Committee,
proposing the subjects to be allocated to the District Councils,
39.1. The Committee also recommends the evolving of mechanisms
to deal with the transfer of subjects from the State list to District
list and vice versa. There is also need to evolve the mechanism of
dealing with a situation where the leader of the majority party has
lost the majority in the Council, or has failed to carry on its functions
within the provisions of the State Constitution, or is working against
the interests of the State or Country.
The Committee recommends that the issue relating to the allocation
of funds and the powers of taxation may be assigned to a committee
of Experts which should be constituted for this purpose. It needs
to be recognized that the problems of development of different districts
are not uniform.
This Committee is aware of the commitment of the Government in
the State towards promoting better involvement and participation
of people in different regions for balanced political, economics,
educational, social and cultural development.
The Committee recognizes that there is a perception of neglect
and injustice, real or imaginary, existing among the groups in the
diverse regions/provinces of the State. The Committee is of the
view that there is urgency in evolving the mechanisms of decentralization
of political and economic power to the grassroots level. There is
equally an urgency to empower the local organs of State power.
In order to achieve the foregoing objective, the Committee has
recommended the formation of Regional/Provincial Councils in the
State. The Committee is of the view that identifying the Regions/Provinces
at this point of time has a special relevance in achieving the
objective of devolution of power and bringing about the speedy
social development by providing the opportunities of democratic
governance and participation in developmental programmes to the
ethnic identities in the State.
The Committee is also of the view that another approach of satisfying
the urges of local self-governance and devolution of political
and economic power to people at the grassroots lies through the
constituting of District Councils. The Committee has elaborately
discussed the reasons of proposing an alternative model of District
The Committee leaves it to the discretion of the Government to
accept and adopt one or the other model for the State as recommended
in this report. The Committee also recommends that Government may
constitute an Experts Committee and seek its opinion on the proposed
models before taking a final decision in this behalf.
The Committee is of the view that constituting the Regional/Provincial
or District Councils will have an enormous impact on the existing
administrative structures in the State. Therefore, the Committee
recommends constituting a Finance Commission for the Jammu and Kashmir
State. The Commission would recommend the methods and mechanisms
of raising the funds, devolving the funds to different organs and
provide the norms for transfers from the consolidated fund of the
State to Regional/Provincial or District Councils.
The Committee recommends that necessary amendments to the Constitution
of Jammu and Kashmir, after the decision of adopting the model of
Regional/Provincial Councils or the model of district Council s
has been taken by the Government, should be carried out in order
to bring a particular model within the Constitution framework of
The Committee recommends that necessary changes in the functioning
of Academy of Art, Culture and Languages may be carried out in order
to implement the recommendations made in the report.
The Committee also recommends the early setting up of Municipal
Corporations in the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu in view
of the changing face of these two completely urbanised cities of
The Committee recommends that in any set-up adopted by the Government,
a special consideration may be shown for the development of the
comparatively most backward and hilly areas of the State, viz. Lohai
Malhar, Bani, Dudu Basantgarh, Panchari, Paddar, Marwah, Tangdar,
Gurais and Uri.
The Committee expresses its gratitude to the people, political
leaders, activists, writers, teachers, doctors from different regions
of the State for extending their co-operation by interacting with
The Committee concludes this report on this note
"The day will come when the progress of Nation will be judged
not by their Military or Economic strength, nor by the splendor of
their capital cities and public buildings, but, by the well being
of their peoples; by their levels of Health, Nutrition and Education".
('The Progress of Nation' - UNICEF document, 1994)
(Sd.) SYED MUSHTAQ BUKHARI
(Sd.) MUBARAK GUL
(Sd.) MOHAMMAD SHAFI