Beginning of a new chapter
For more than six decades, an institution that had been functioning in India's northern most state came to its end when the Upper House of Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was abolished on October 17 under Section 57 of the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, which altered the status of the State to the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir's Legislative Council was once known for setting debates and settling sticky discourses. There are 116 employees working with the Council since the first Constituent Assembly came into being in 1957. The Legislative Council is remembered for having passed uneasy bills like the land to tiller law, resettlement Bill and autonomy resolution. It came to be a vibrant forum for discussion regarding the Delhi agreement of 1952 and the Delhi-Srinagar accord of 1975. With a strength of 36 members, the Council was also a part of the electoral college for the Rajya Sabha elections. With this development, not only does the tenure of all 22 current Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) come to an end, due administrative procedures have been initiated in the wake of this change. The J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019 was passed by Parliament in the first week of August. The northern state is bifurcated into Two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh with effect from November 1. August 5 was the fateful day when the government of India unilaterally changed the status of Jammu and Kashmir and downgraded it to Union Territories. The function of state Assemblies is to pass the bills after due discussion. Select states have bicameral legislature and the Legislative Council serves the purpose of providing another grade of check on passage of bills and also to avoid any hasty decisions. Given how crucial a state Jammu and Kashmir has been, the Upper House in the state's Assembly was crucial in aiding administrative ease. As matters took an unexpected turn following the Union government's August 5 decision, the powers and responsibility of Jammu and Kashmir with respect to its territory and administration is divided in significant measure and the Central government assumes prominent responsibility. This development comes as another feature following the Central government's decision. While more is expected, it is hoped that this will mark a fresh beginning in matters pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir.