The Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress today welcomed the decision of Governor N N Vohra nullifying and reversing the amendment to the Panchayati Raj Act by the previous PDP-BJP government to hold indirect elections of sarpanchs through panchs.
The State Administrative Council (SAC) headed by the Governor yesterday approved a proposal to amend the Act which will provide for election of a sarpanch directly by the electorate, restoring the original position which was altered by an amendment passed in 2016.
However, the Congress urged the Governor to immediately review the delimitation of wards and panchayats conducted by the PDP-BJP government through the rural development department which is arbitrary, illegal, biased and non- transparent.
Hailing the Governor's decision, state Congress Committee chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said the step has restored the faith of people in the Panchayati Raj system and hoped that the delimitation of wards and panchayats will be given a fresh look to rectify the exercise in the interests of democracy.
"The entire Opposition, including the Congress, had opposed the anti-democratic decision of the then government as it had weakened the Panchayati Raj in the state," he said.
Sharma said the Congress had succeeded in its struggle to fully empower Panchayati Raj system by implementing and incorporating 73rd amendment in the State Panchayati Raj Act in March, 2014, but the PDP-BJP government had undone the same by a "retrograde amendment" on the strength of majority despite strong protest from the Congress and other opposition parties as well as the panchayat bodies in the state.
He emphasized that by virtue of the amendment of 2014 in the State Panchayati Raj Act, the powers of delimitations of wards and panchayats were given to election authority in order to maintain fairness and transparency of exercise.
However, the previous government carried out exercise of delimitations on contrary to State Panchayati Raj Act as well as norms of fairness and transparency, he said, demanding that the delimitation of wards and panchayats should be reviewed and re-visited by the election authority as per provisions of the Act.
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