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Government And Administration

Jammu and Kashmir comprising of 3 divisions and 22 districts is administered by the body formed under the Governor who is the executive head of the administration while the other wings are the judiciary and the legislative.

The President of India appoints the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir as is the process in all other states of India. The Governor is considered to be the head of the state, and the appointment is based on the recommendation by the Central government. While the Governor is more a ceremonial post, the Chief Minister exercises greater administrative powers. The current Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir is Omar Abdullah. The state has two capitals with Srinagar being the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital.

The legislative council is formed of the upper house called Vidhan Parishad having 36 members and the lower house called the Vidhan Sabha comprising of 89 MLA or Member of the Legislative Assembly. The term of the Legislature is 5 years unless it is dissolved earlier for other reasons. The former Sher Garhi Palace, in Srinagar locates the offices of the “Old Secretariat” and is the assembly building. Branches of the high court of Jammu and Kashmir are there in Jammu and Srinagar.

Article 370 of the Constitution of India which gives special autonomy to the state of Jammu and Kashmir makes the administration of this state singularly different from that of other states of India. According to this article, laws with the Parliament of India enact would not be applicable to the state of Jammu and Kashmir unless the same is ratified by the state legislature. Laws passed in the fields of defence foreign policy and communication, however, are exempt from this autonomous empowering article that the state enjoys. The Supreme Court of India and its jurisdiction to cover the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been empowered separately.

Another distinct aspect of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is that people who are not residents of the state cannot acquire land or other immovable property in this state. The state itself has a separate official flag, and its constitution is also different from that of the rest of the country. The official flag of Jammu and Kashmir had been designed by the National Conference party which had been ruling the state at the time of its formation. The flag has a red background which indicates labor and a plough at the foreground. Earlier to that the flag that symbolized the state was that of the ruling Maharaja. The three administrative divisions that the state have been divided into are represented by the three stripes on the flag. The three divisions are Jammu, Valley of Kashmir and Ladakh.

The Armed Forces Act has been enforced in the state of Jammu and Kashmir since 1990 which has been criticized vehemently by Human Rights Watch as this gives discretionary powers to the security forces deployed in this area.

The legislature of Jammu Kashmir is bicameral in nature and follows the democratic process for its formation as in the rest of the country. The constitution of Jammu and Kashmir provisions for 100 seats from direct election process. This caters for the territorial constituencies of the state. At the time of writing the constitution for Jammu and Kashmir, 25 seats had been reserved for those constituencies which came under the Pakistan occupied area. The 12th amendment to the Jammu and Kashmir constitution amended this reservation to 24 seats.

At the time of formation, the 47th section of the Constitution stated The territory of the State shall comprise all the territories which on the fifteenth day of August 1947, were under the sovereignty or suzerainty of the Ruler of the State". Section 48 of the Jammu and Kashmir constitution states “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 47 until the area of the State under the occupations of Pakistan ceases to so occupied and the people residing in that area elect their representatives (a) 25 seats in the Assembly shall remain vacant and the area shall not be included in delimiting territorial Constituencies as per Section 47".

The total number of seats in the legislature was increased to 111 in 1988 when a delimitation process was endorsed. Of these 87, seats were from the territory administered by the Indian government. The term of the legislative assembly in Jammu and Kashmir also differs from that of other states of India that has a 5 year term. The J&K assembly, on the other hand, has six year tenure. The Government formed by INC which was in power in the last tenure had endeavored to change this rule position but failed to pass the same through the parliament due lack of support.

So far as the major political parties that are active in the state goes, they are the Indian National Congress (INC), the BJP, Bharatiya Janata Party, the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference (NC) and the Jammu and Kashmir People's Democratic Party (PDP). There are other smaller regional parties also existing in the state. In the 2002, the two parties of INC and PDP aligned together to fight the influence of the National Conference, which had held power till that year. The agreement between the two coalition parties had Gulam Nabi Azad leader of the INC replace Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who was the leader of the PDP as the Chief Minister of the state. The issue of allotting 40 acres or 16 hectares of land to the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board in 2008 led to the breakup of the coalition and PDP withdrew support for the government. Election held in the state from November 17 to December 24 returned a split verdict wherein the Congress and the National Congress party secured the number of required seats to rule only in coalition.

People from the Kashmir Valley region in specific have been vociferous in their demand for separating from the rest of India. They have been demanding more independence and sovereignty. But, the rest of the state has been dependent on India for their economic sustenance due which this demand for breaking away from India had not found much support. With the incident of 2008, this issue found new blood being infused and on 18th august of that year rally of 500,000 odd people had gathered to protest the land allotment. Chatham House carried out a survey and arrived at the conclusion that it was only people from the Kashmir Valley who were demanding the separation of the sate while those in Jammu and Ladakh did not favor this thought process.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in their report submitted in 2009 rates the Jammu and Kashmir region as a partly free area while they have rated Pakistan-administered Kashmir as not a free zone.

Current Government

General election in 2008 lead to the formation of the present government which is a coalition between the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference and the Indian National Congress. The PDP had been the ruling party till then was ousted from power.

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