NEW DELHI: The Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister, Abdul Rahim Rather who is also the Chairman of the Empowered Committee of the State Finance Ministers has said that the State of Jammu and Kashmir enjoys a special status under the Constitution of India and its constitutional relationship with the Union of India is governed by Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The division of powers between the Union of India and the State of Jammu and Kashmir is not at the same footing as it is in respect of other states of the Union, he added.
Speaking at a meeting of the Empowerment Committee of State Finance Ministers held at New Delhi today, Mr. Rather said that the Union List and the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India as applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir are not the same as the Union List and the Concurrent List applicable to the rest of the States of the Union.
While making Seventh Schedule applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, certain entries of the Union List and the Concurrent List have been omitted. Likewise, while making Seventh Schedule applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, State List has been omitted. As a corollary, Article 246 and Article 248 of the Constitution of India which govern the division of legislative powers between the Centre and the States apply in a modified form to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus, Parliament is vested with the power to make laws in respect of Jammu and Kashmir pertaining to the matters enumerated in entries 1 to 96 of the Union List. The residuary power vests with the State of Jammu and Kashmir. As a consequence, except the law relating to entries 1 to 96 of the Union List, the Legislature of the State of Jammu and Kashmir can legislate on every other matter i.e. even on the subjects which do not fall directly within the ambit of the State List or the Concurrent List.
Rather said that while introducing Goods and Services Tax, the special status of J&K State guaranteed under the constitution of India has to be safeguarded at all costs. We cannot afford to tamper with the autonomous position enjoyed by a politically sensitive State like Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Rather asserted.
He said that some tax models are available at the international level which can be conveniently applied to J&K State while introducing GST. That would ensure the protection of Special constitutional position as also the smooth implementation of GST.
Rather said that a Committee of experts is currently examining the whole issue and the State will soon come out with a well considered formulation in this regard.
The Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers which met today under the Chairmanship of Mr. A. R. Rather in New Delhi held threadbare discussion on the proposed GST regime. The main issues discussed in the day long meeting included the revised draft of the Constitution (One Hundred and Fifteenth Amendment) Bill, 2011 which has recently been referred by Government of India to the Empowered Committee.
Many Finance Ministers expressed their views on the all-important agenda while others will be given opportunity in the next meeting of the Empowered Committee scheduled to be held in November, 2013.
Prior to the regular meeting of the Empowered Committee, the Governing Body and Annual General Body Meetings were also held under the Chairmanship of J&K Finance Minister. In these meetings the annual report on the working of the Empowered Committee for the year, 2012-13 as also the accounts of the Committee for the said period were approved.
In addition to Finance Ministers, these meetings were attended by Advisor to Union Finance Minister, Additional Secretary, Revenue, Government of India, Finance Secretaries and Commissioners of Commercial Taxes of various States as also the Member-Secretary and other officers of Empowered Committee Secretariat.
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