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J&K daughters’ Bill rejected
Tribune News Service

Members of the National Conference argue for the introduction of the controversial Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill, 2004, in the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar on Friday.
Members of the National Conference argue for the introduction of the controversial Permanent Residents (Disqualification) Bill, 2004, in the Legislative Assembly in Srinagar on Friday. — Tribune photo by Amin War

Srinagar, August 27
Amid open confrontation between top leaders of the two main alliance parties — the Congress and PDP — the controversial Permanent Resident (Disqualification) Bill 2004, was rejected after an over two-and-a-half-hour-long discussion in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly today.

The Bill was introduced again for being passed by the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh, “as originally passed by the House”. But the National Conference, which has been seeking a simple majority for its passage, rejected the Speaker’s ruling by saying that there was no proper voting through consideration and passing motions. Its leader, Abdul Rahim Rather threatened to bring a no-confidence motion against the Speaker on the issue and said the Law Minister had been “physically stopped” by the Congress members from making his stand clear.

The Bill got rejected as only 47 members voted in its favour as against the required 57 for a two-third majority to give assent to it, as claimed by the Speaker, Mr Tara Chand. The Speaker, before adjourning the House ruled that the bill had been rejected as it did not get the two-third majority. Those in its favour included the opposition National Conference members, ruling PDP and other independents. The Congress, main ally of the coalition government, which opposed the Bill, did not vote in its favour. The voting followed resentment by the Congress members led by the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, and others, including Mr Raman Bhalla and Yogesh Sawhney, against the Law Minister’s remarks.

There was an open confrontation in the House between the Congress ministers led by the Deputy Chief Minister, and the PDP with the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Muzaffar Hussain Beigh in the forefront. It started when the Law minister expressed concern over the doubts and questions raised by the Congress against the Bill, which had been passed by the Assembly in March this year. The Law Minister said the Bill did not endanger India or the people of Jammu and Kashmir in any way and added that there was a danger when parties were divided in the House on regional or religious lines and this sent sending wrong signals. “Our basic right is to remove misgivings. The Congress says it is a gender discrimination”, commented Mr Beigh. He questioned as to “why do they doubt our identity?” This was resented to by Mr Mangat Ram Sharma of the Congress who was sitting close to the Law Minister. “Let me speak. Don’t try to browbeat me”, was the quick reply from Mr Beigh. He added that he was ready to resign and argued with Mr Sharma saying that he could “not stop peoples’ voice”. “Do not say that the Congress is with the BJP” came a quick answer from Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed, Rural Development Minister and newly appointed chief of the Pradesh Congress Committee. Mr Sharma said his party had relaxed rules providing room for further introduction of the Bill in the House.

The Speaker, Mr Tara Chand (Congress) later clarified that it was a pass motion in the House as the Bill had already been discussed and passed during the last session in Jammu. He added that there was direct voting while 47 members were in favour of the Bill. In reply to a question the Speaker said it was up to the government to decide whether to introduce the Bill again or not.

National Conference leader, Abdul Rahim Rather said the law minister was physically stopped when he was talking about the Constitution. He added that the Congress had made its stand clear that it was against the Bill. “They are not sincere and the Bill is still there”, he commented. Mr Rather held that it was the right of the members and not that of a single member and added that the Bill had not been rejected. Claiming that PDP members did not support the Law Minister, Mr Rather held that Mr Beigh had been discussing only the consideration of the Bill and not the pass motion.

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