The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday ordered the formal opening of the annual Darbar Move offices in summer capital Srinagar on May 4 but said the employees shall work on "as is where is" basis.
This is for the first time in 148 years that the Jammu and Kashmir government has 'halted' the traditional administrative tradition of Darbar Move. It cited Coronavirus pandemic as a reason to halt the Move.
The employees belonging to the Valley will only move to the Valley this year, while employees belonging to the Jammu division serving in such offices will work on an 'as is where is' basis.
This means such employees will not move to the Valley during this year's Darbar move.
It said the Darbar Move offices outside the Civil Secretariat shall also continue to remain functional in Jammu and Srinagar, as per the aforementioned mechanism.
The order states that Kashmir-based staff will work from Srinagar while Jammu-based staff shall work from Jammu division only. The order issued by the General Administrative Department said the arrangement will be reviewed after assessing the extent and spread of Covid-19 after June 15, 2020.
It also said that administrative Secretaries will make necessary arrangements to ensure the functionality in their respective departments, both at Srinagar and Jammu
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah described the order as "mindless rubbish". Omar said: “This order regarding the bi-annual 'durbar move' is just mindless rubbish at worst & needless tokenism at best. So the offices can’t shift to Srinagar because of #Covid_19, I get that. What I don’t get is what Srinagar secretariat will do without files or senior officers?”
Omar further said: “Most of the Kashmir-based employees are in Jammu since the secretariat was functioning in Jammu over the winter so who will operate out of the Srinagar secretariat? If Srinagar Secretariat has no employees, no officers & no files what is it being opened for?
“This order of two 'functioning secretariats' will just create confusion because no one will know which secretariat to approach to get their work done. It would be better to withdraw this order & just delay the move of offices till the #Covid_19 threat has passed.”
The erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was the only region in the country that had two capitals, Srinagar and Jammu. Every year, in May and October-November, the capital and secretariat shift from one capital city to the other city to escape the extreme weather conditions in the two regions.
The summer capital opens in Srinagar in May and the winter in Jammu in October. The relocation of capital and secretariat from Jammu to Srinagar is called the Darbar Move.
Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh had started the practice of Darbar Move in 1872. It is after his name, Ranbir Penal Code of Jammu and Kashmir was in force in the State which was equivalent to the Indian Penal Code. The Ranbir Penal Code ceases to exist after the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
In 1987, former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah tried to stop this practice when he issued orders to keep the secretariat in Srinagar open throughout the year. The decision led to an agitation in Jammu, which was spearheaded by Jammu Bar Association. Later several political parties joined the agitation forcing Abdullah to rescind the decision within a month.
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