On July 21, Jammu and Kashmir administration announced that a non-state subject husband of a native woman is now eligible to get a domicile status in the Union Territory. Earlier, domicile was not allowed for the spouses of women residents who married outside the UT.
It was one of the multiple unfair and discriminatory laws that was in force in Jammu and Kashmir due to Article 370. After the abrogation of Article 370, the government has made several amendments in existing provisions to provide equal opportunities to women, Dalits and other groups.
The administration has made new amendments to clarify that when the law talks about spouse, it means both men and women married outside could get domicile based on the domicile of their partner. Manoj Dwivedi, Commissioner/Secretary, General Administration Department (GAD), issued the order.
Jammu & Kashmir government to issue domicile certificate to the spouse of a native woman. Earlier J&K women who were married outside the UT, made their spouse ineligible for UT's domicile. pic.twitter.com/SeZdLs2Mbe— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2021
Documents required for domicile application
As per the regulations laid down under the amendment in the Jammu & Kashmir (Adaptation of State Laws) Second Order, 2020 issued under section 96 of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019., the documents required for a domicile certificate include a valid proof of marriage and a domicile certificate of the spouse. Tehsildar would be able to issue domicile certificates to the applicants based on their documents as per the law. Notably, so far, only children of such women domicile were eligible for the domicile certificates. There was confusion about the spouses, both men and women, which has been cleared by the administration with the amendments.
The amendments have modified the applicability of domicile conditions to all levels of jobs in the UT under the J&K Civil Services (Decentralisation and Recruitment) Act. The order reads, “In exercise of the powers conferred by the proviso to Article 309 of the Consitution of India, read with section 15 of the Jammu and Kashmir Civil Services Act 2010, the government hereby directs in sub-rule (1) of rule 5 of the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate Rules 220, after S.No/Clause 6, the following shall be added.”
Previous governments failed to address the issue
For decades, many such discriminatory laws had existed but none of the political parties that ruled Jammu & Kashmir had paid heed to the demand of issuance of Permanent Resident Certificates or PRCs to the husband of PRC women married outside the J&K. It was one of the biggest reasons of anxiety and uncertainty among the women of the UT. Such denial of the domicile status created a situation where PRC men married outside could get PRC for their wife, but a woman married outside would lose all the rights that come with domicile in J&K.
Interestingly, the previous regulations affected the family structure of the leaders in the valley as well. Mollie, a British citizen, got a domicile after marrying Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference. Similarly, Payal (estranged wife of Omar Abdullah) got a domicile ship after marrying him. However, Sara Abdullah’s husband Sachin Pilot could not get domicile status.
In 2019, PM Modi had said, “The daughters of Jammu & Kashmir were deprived of the right that our daughters had in rest of the states,” while addressing the issue. This is for the first time that men and women in the valley will have equal rights in every arena in the valley.
The judgement that laid down the foundation for equal rights
In October 2002, a full bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, headed by Chief Justice VK Jhanji, gave a verdict in Dr Sushila Sawhney Vs State of J&K case that laid down the foundation for the amendment in the law is present. At that time, the bench said that a woman PRC continued to be a PRC after marrying outside the state. Before the judgement, PRCs of the girls in women have stamped “Valid Till Marriage”. No such stamps were put on the PRCs issued to men in the valley.
BJP hailed the decision
Bhartiya Janata Party, J&K praised the government for the amendment in the laws. While addressing a press conference, Ravinder Raina, President, BJP J&K, termed it a historic decision. He said, “It was ironic to see that secessionists leaders who had married women from outside the country including Pakistan had ensured state subject rights/status for them. But daughters of J&K who were marrying people within India but outside J&K were losing all the rights in J&K.”
Former deputy CM and BJP leader Kavinder Gupta said the rights of the domicile women had been restored due to the efforts of PM Modi-led government at the centre. He said, “As of today the daughters and their spouses will be able to get ownership rights of their already existing properties besides the properties which they now purchase in J&K UT, he said, adding, “As a result, of Centre’s focussed attention to the issues of women of J&K, now the husband of a woman married to a person outside J&K is entitled to get a Domicile Certificate of this Union Territory.”