The BJP-led central government has issued corrections for as many as 52 errors in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, in a move likely to lend credence to the opposition's claim that the legislation aimed at bifurcating the state was introduced hastily last month after its special status was scrapped.
While government officials termed the bill as a "tale of missing I's and additional T's", even a crucial year mentioned in the bill was found to be wrong. "It was supposed to be an important piece of legislation, and these mistakes show just what kind of a tearing hurry the government was in. This has turned out to be a comedy of errors," one of them said.
On Thursday, the government came out with a three-page document announcing corrections in the legislation responsible for bifurcating the state into two distinct union territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. The bill was passed by parliament on August 7, and a gazette notification was issued two days later after President Ram Nath Kovind stamped his assent.
Although senior officers in the Ministry of Home Affairs were involved in drafting the original bill, it didn't seem to have been put through extensive screening before being presented in parliament on August 5. For instance, "administrator" was spelt as "adminstrator"; "article" as "artcle"; "territories" as "Tterritories"; "Shariat" as "Shariet"; and "safai karamcharis" as "safaikaramcharis".
Also, a line stating that a delimitation exercise will be carried out for parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir has now been taken out of the bill.
Other mistakes in the document turned out to be more than just spelling errors. The "Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir" became the "State of Jammu and Kashmir"; the "Institutions Act, 2004" became the "Institute's Act, 2004"; and the date "1909" was miswritten as "1951".
However, the government believes that it's time to move on. "The anomalies in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act have been corrected with this corrigenda," a home ministry official told NDTV.
The centre has divided Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories through the Act, and the changes will come into effect on October 31. The move has been criticised by opposition parties and local activists, who claim that the law was hastily introduced without taking ground realities into account.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under lockdown ever since the centre scrapped its special status under Article 370 and bifurcated it in an unexpected move last month, but government officials say that the restrictions are being gradually lifted. Many political leaders who were placed under arrest as a precautionary measure ahead of the move are yet to be released.
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