Modi Government Shuts The Door For Return of J&K Residents Who Emigrated to Pakistan

Using the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, the Modi Government has withdrawn a 37-year-old law that allowed the return of J&K residents who moved to Pakistan from 1947 to 1954, reports TheWire.

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The Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Permit for Resettlement in (or Permanent Return to) the State Act, 1982, which gave constitutional sanctuary to J&K residents and their descendants who had migrated to Pakistan from March 1, 1947 to May 14, 1954 to return to India, was one of the 153 state laws and Governors’ Acts repealed under the J&K Reorganisation Act.

The Act was passed by parliament on August 5, after the Government of India read down Article 370 of the Constitution. “Since the Resettlement Act has been removed, the doors have been shut for the return of these J&K residents from Pakistan,” said Abdur Rahim Rather, senior National Conference said. 

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Abdur Rahim Rather had in March 1980 introduced a private member Bill in the J&K assembly which designed out a thorough roadmap for the return of these J&K residents from Pakistan. The Bill was, however, sent to a nine-member select committee of the J&K assembly after opposition from some parties. Following the committee’s approval, it was passed by the legislature.

The then-governor, B.K. Nehru, however, returned it on September 18, 1982, seeking “re-evaluation”. Both the houses of the legislature again passed the Act, which came to be commonly known as the “Jammu & Kashmir resettlement law” on October 6, 1982, without any change, despite resistance from the Congress at the Centre.

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Though the governor gave his obligatory ascent on the second occasion, the legislation was sent under a presidential reference to the Supreme Court under provisions of Article 142 (1) of the Constitution by the then-President Giani Zail Singh, seeking opinion “as to whether the Bill or any of the provision thereof, if enacted, would be constitutionally invalid”.

As per the contents of the Act, any person who, before May 14, 1954, was a J&K state subject of class I or class II, and who had migrated after March 1, 1947, to the territory now included in Pakistan, may himself or by his relative who is a permanent resident of the state, make an application before the “competent authority” with an expression of a desire to return to J&K.

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The authority, if satisfied that the person desirous of resettlement in or permanent return to the state has a bona fide intention for such resettlement or permanent return to the state and was a state subject of class I or class II before May 14, 1954, and had migrated after March 1, 1947, or is a descendant, wife or widow of such state subject as the case may be, shall recommend such person to the government for grant of a permit for resettlement in or permanent return to the state.

The prospective returnees were also required to fill a form of “Oath of Allegiance” to the Constitution of India and the J&K Constitution.

Originally Published By: The Wire. Edited By The EurAsian Times