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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.