Magazine

English Hindi

Index

Economy

Prelims bits

Prelims Capsule

Polity

Law Ministry issues corrigendum to Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act

Law Ministry issues corrigendum to Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act

Tag:GS-2|| Polity || Other Constitutional Dimensions || Special Provisions for Some states

 Why in News?

  • Recently, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice was forced to issue a corrigendum to the Jammu and Kashmir

Reorganisation Act.

 J&K Reorganisation Act

  • The Act gave the de facto revocation of Article 370 legal force.
  • A special relationship between the Centre and the former state had been established.
  • The Act was introduced to divide Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
  • Both will come into being on 31 October 2019.

 What was the corrigendum?

  • 52 Errors were detected
    • The corrigendum had to correct as many as 52 errors in the Act, from simple spelling mistakes to incorrectly referenced laws.
    • For example, the administrator was labeled‘ Administrator’ while the article became’ Article,’ territories-‘ Territories,’ Shariat-‘ Shariet,Safai Karamcharis-‘ Safaikaramcharis’
    • Even before corrections were informed, the Act specified that the J&K parliamentary constituencies would be demarcated.
    • The corrigenda, however, said the sentence was now omitted.
    • Other main errors include’ Jammu and Kashmir State’ for’ Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory,” Institutions Act, 2005′ for’ Institutions Act, 2004,” 1951′ for’ 1909.’

 Other such cases?

  • This was not an occurrence in isolation.
  • The ministry has frequently had to issue these corrections, especially when it comes to ordinances such as those amending the corporate income tax law.
  • They seem to have been drawn up quickly and without adequate consultation.
  • No formal changes or corrections shall be given on other occasions.
  • In such situations, the Minister concerned gives the Parliament oral assurance that any defects in the wording of the law would be addressed when the applicable rules are published.

Larger concern?

  • This represents the lack of application of the mind that seems to have crept into the executive’s legislative process.
  • The persistent weakening of the proper process of policy-making and legislation is another troubling source.
  • Drafting errors, if not detected, can have ramifications much later in the future.
  • Tax mistakes are particularly dangerous because they can leave loopholes that can be exploited by private lawyers and accountants.
  • On the other hand, closing them retroactively would have a very negative impact on public opinion and the trust of investors.

Measure taken

  • The Secretariat of the Cabinet has recently written to the various ministries and departments of the Union.
  • It was noted that draft Cabinet Notes must be circulated well in advance.
  • Before the legislative process starts, any flaws or contradictions may be found.
  • The Cabinet Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s Office should also be allotted at least 15 days.
  • The documents in question and the regular inter-ministerial meetings shall be reviewed.
  • This is the recommended time to finalize notes in the Cabinet Notes Handbook.

Matter of concern

  • The Secretariat of the Cabinet should be commended for taking action to remind the ministries and departments of this issue.
  • The real problem, though, is the complexity of the decision-making process.
  • In absolute secrecy, too many major policy changes with significant legal implications are being made.
  • Inadequate consultation within the government or with the Parliament is becoming the norm.
  • Unrealistic and imprudent timelines for major changes are being forced on the bureaucracy for key decisions.

Way forward

  • Fear of major changes leaks and public discussion is contrary to the spirit of representative liberal democracy, with negative implications for quality governance.
  • The legislative process and policy changes underlying it has developed to eliminate error and optimize performance, which should be valued.
  • It is essential to enhance capacity-building within the state.
  • Public discussion should be formalized and notes and drafts from the Cabinet and draft legislation taken seriously.

References