HC Dismisses Plea By Sikhs Seeking Share In Special Job-Package For KPs

SRINAGAR — The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition by a Sikh body and two other employed youths from the community, challenging SRO 425 by virtue of Kashmir Pandit families were included in special job package for KP families residing in the Valley who had not migrated in the wake of events in 1990.

A bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar however, held Government Order no.96-DMRR&R of 2017 dated 13th November 2017 unsustainable in law and accordingly, quashed it.  

“I do not find the impugned Government Order no.96-DMRR&R of 2017 dated 13th November 2017 sustainable in law, for the same has the effect of modifying the Statutory Rules which is impermissible. All the posts created in pursuance to the Prime Minister’s Package for Return and Rehabilitation are required to be filled up as per the Rules of 2009 and in no other manner,” the court said

One of the petitioners claimed to be a body of Kashmiri Sikhs, represented by one Santpal Singh resident of Aloochi Bagh, Srinagar while two others claimed to be the unemployed Kashmiri Sikh youth.

The petitioners had moved against special dispensation in the matter of employment given in favour of Kashmiri Pandits, living in Kashmir Valley, by amending J&K Migrants (Special Drive) Recruitment Rules 2009  in terms of SRO 425 dated 10th October 2017. 

They had also challenged subsequent Government Order bearing no.96-DMRR&R of 2017 dated 13th November 2017. 

They asserted that SRO 425 dated 10th October 2017, whereby the Rules of 2009 have been amended violates the equality clause, bedrock of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution, by treating the Sikh Community staying in Kashmir Valley differently than the similarly placed Kashmiri Pandits, for the purposes of extending the Prime Minister’s Employment Package. In essence, they sought directions to government to treat them at par with Kashmiri Pandits, staying in Valley, for the purposes of providing the employment pursuant to the Prime Minister’s Package of Return and Rehabilitation.

“Before adverting to the grounds of challenge urged in support of the claim made in the writ petition, it would be pertinent to briefly narrate the factual background leading to issuance of the impugned SRO,” the court observed.

It is a historical known fact that during the year 1990, there was a sudden spurt of militancy and terrorism in Kashmir Valley, the court said. There were stray instances of target killings of minority community (Kashmiri Pandits) and political workers. “This led to scare in the minds of such people who feared for their life and honour in the wake of happenings which were taking place at the relevant point of time.” The happenings created a sort of fear psychosis and instilled strong sense of insecurity in the mind of aforesaid community,” the court observed, adding, “In the result, the Nation witnessed large scale exodus of Kashmiri Pandits along with the political workers from Kashmir Valley.  This was unprecedented situation witnessed by the Nation. The condition in the Valley at the relevant point was such that no authority of the State could prevent such mass exodus.”

  There are different versions on the reasons for such mass exodus of a particular community, the court said, adding different political parties hold different views. 

“The Court may not be concerned as to what were actual reasons of the mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir Valley but at the same time is not oblivious to the plight and miseries that befell on these migrants,” the court said, adding, “They had to leave their home and hearth and settle in camps in Jammu, New Delhi and various other places of the country, where they felt sense of security.”

 The court said there can be no dispute that sufferings all these Kashmiri Migrants, who had to leave their home and hearth in peculiar law and order situation in the State, were of high magnitude.

The Government of India as also the Governments of various States came up with different measures of rehabilitation and provided relief and succour to these families by all possible means, it said. “Despite all efforts made by the Government of India at its level, there was no discernible improvement in the living standard of this migrant community.  This led the Government of India to come up with a comprehensive package and policy of relief and rehabilitation in the year 2008.”

 This package/policy, the court observed, was first announced by the then Prime Minister during his visit to the State on April 25-26, 2008. The package was meant to ameliorate the lot of Kashmiri Pandit Community, who had been forced to migrate from Kashmir Valley and to facilitate their return and rehabilitation.

Apart from other incentives contained in the package formally announced in June 2008, it was also decided to provide the jobs to the educated among migrant youth in the State Government services and financial assistance (grant of loans to unemployed to help them engage in self-employment through vocational training), the court said.

Accordingly, 3000 supernumerary posts were created in various Departments for providing employment to migrant youth who were willing to return and serve in Kashmir Valley.  With a view to filling up these posts and providing employment exclusively to the unemployed youth from amongst the migrants, the Government came up with the Rules of 2009, which were notified by the Government vide SRO 412 dated 30th December 2009.

These Rules, as is apparent from their recital, are statutory rules framed by the Governor under proviso to Section 124 of the Constitution of J&K, the court said.  “The supernumerary posts created under the Prime Minister’s package were, accordingly, filled up under the aforesaid Rules and the employment to several migrant youth, came to be provided.”

 

 

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