Ex-J&K CMs stripped of all privileges

SRINAGAR: In a major setback for the surviving former chief ministers of the former J&kstate,whotookofficeafter1984,thecenterstrippedthemoftheirlifetimeprivilegesontuesdaynight,suchasfreeaccommodation,freehealthcare,pension,z-plussecurityforthemselvesandtheirfamilies,andotherfacilities,includingapersonalassistant,aspecialassistantandtwopawns.theformercmsthatwillbeaffectedbythisdevelopmentare,hissonomarabdullah,mehboobamuftiyghulamnabiazad.

whenfarooqwascmin1996,hehadamendedthestatelegislaturemembers’pensionact,1984,toaddsection3c,allowingformercmstoenjoytheseprivilegesybenefits.theformercmswill,however,continuetogetallthebenefitsofex-mlas.

“notwithstandinganythingcontainedinthisact,amemberwhoisentitledtopensionunderthisactywhohasservedaschiefministerofthestate,shallbeentitledtocar,petrol,medicalfacilities,driver,rent-freefurnishedaccommodation,expendituretothelimitofrs35,000perannumforfurnishingoftheresidentialaccommodation,freetelephonecallsuptothevalueofrs48,000perannum,freeelectricitytotheextentofrs1,500permonth,etc.,”theamendedactsaid.

throughapresidentialorder,thecentrehasnowscrappedtheamendmentsmadetotheact,usingjammu& Kashmir Reorganization (Adaptation of State Laws) Order-2020. On August 5 last year, the Centre had ended the special status of J&K & reorganised the state into two Union Territories.

In September last year, the J&K Law Commission, headed by Justice (retd) M K Hanjura, had recommended to the Centre that some provisions in the Act be removed because they “violate the constitutional principles of equality”. In a report submitted to chief secretary , he had declared Section 3C (e) & (f) of the Act “arbitrary & not in consonance with any scheme or law”.

Barring Farooq & Azad, the other two ex-CMs retain their rent-free government bungalows in Srinagar’s Gupkar Road neighbourhood. While Farooq lives in his private house in Gupkar Road, senior Congress functionary Azad, whenever in Srinagar, stays at his Hyderpora residence. However, they used to enjoy all other benefits of being ex-CMs. While Farooq is the sitting MP from Srinagar, Azad is the leader of Opposition in the .

The other two ex-CMs, Omar & Mehbooba, have been clinging on to their official residences in Srinagar despite having their private houses here. While Omar has his father’s house just a few houses away from his official residence, Mehbooba has her house at Nowgam in Srinagar.

In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a law guaranteeing all former CMs in the state one official bungalow each for life. After that ruling, J&khadremainedtheonlystateinwhichaformercmcouldstayinanofficialbungalowwithoutevenpayingrent.

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