Kashmir Council is toothless body

The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, commonly known as the Kashmir Council, which came into being under Section 21 of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir under the Act, 1974

What was the objective of forming the Kashmir Council, we must first review the Council of Occupied Kashmir?

In 1934, Maharaja of Kashmir Hari Singh founded the Legislative Council which was adopted in 1957 by the Puppet Law of Occupied Kashmir and the Indian Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council Act. The Council consists of 36 members.  The 11 members of the Legislative Assembly of Occupied Kashmir from Kashmir Province (Kashmir Valley) are directly elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly of Occupied Kashmir from Jammu Province.  And one must be from Kargil Tehsil, 2 members are elected from the areas of Jammu and Valley that represent the Municipal Council or Town Committee, similarly two members are selected from the Valley and areas of Jammu who are there.  8 members become members of the Legislative Council on the nomination of the Governor of Occupied Kashmir, at least three of whom belong to the poor or small caste of the Occupied State while the remaining five are technocrats.  

One the other hand of Azad Jammu & Kashmir. The upper house is known as Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, the council consists of 12 members. The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, commonly known as the Kashmir Council, which came into being under Section 21 of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim under the Act, 1974. The Council consists of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, four Federal Ministers of the Government of Pakistan, Minister for Kashmir Affairs, Minister for Finance, Minister for Defense, Minister for Railways, and a Senator. The council Chaired by Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Vice-Chairman is the President of the Independent State of Jammu and Kashmir and Minister Kashmir Affair in charge of Kashmir council. The six members of the Council are elected by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly while the six members of the Assembly are from the National Assembly of Pakistan which is appointed by the Government of Pakistan. 

Before 13th Amendment the council was very powerful Under the interim constitution of Azad Kashmir, the Kashmir Council was an executive authority. Kashmir Council had responsible for the tax collected from all over the state. All the income tax commissioners of the state were subordinate to the council and all the revenue went directly to the council of which 80% is held by Azad Kashmir government and 20% by Kashmir council.

After the historic 13th Amendment to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act 1974 in the Azad Kashmir Legislative Assembly, all powers of the Kashmir Council were transferred to the Azad Kashmir Government, the Legislative Assembly, and the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

It was  passed by a majority vote in the joint sitting of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the Kashmir Council. In the joint sitting, 49 members of the Legislative Assembly, six members of the Kashmir Council and the Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs cast one vote. On June 1, 2018, the PML-N government passed this historic legislation with a majority of 35 out of 56 members.

Many changes have been made through this historic legislation. Article 6 used to convene a joint sitting in case of no-confidence motion against the President, but now a one-third majority of the Legislative Assembly, i.e., 17 members of the Assembly, can move a no-confidence motion. Are Under Article 14 (1), the number of Ministers in the Legislative Assembly is fixed at 30% of the total members of the Assembly. The next government will not be able to have more than 16 ministers in the cabinet under this law. Under Article 14-A, the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir will now be able to appoint five Parliamentary Secretaries and two Special Assistants or Advisers.

According to Article 17 (3), in the absence of the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir, the senior minister would have been the caretaker Prime Minister. The no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir will be able to form 25% of the total members i.e., 13 members of the Assembly. Earlier, a member of the Assembly could have moved the motion.

In Article 50, the Election Commissioner will be replaced by the Election Commission which will consist of a total of three members including one Election Commissioner and two more members. The Prime Minister, after consulting the Leader of the Opposition in Azad Kashmir, will send his name to the President, who will give his formal approval.

The significance  of Azad Kashmir Council after thirteen Amendment is toothless, but according to United Nation(UN) resolution Kashmir Council cannot be abolished in Pakistan and Indian Kashmir.

The author can be reached at wkofficial5@gmail.com

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