The Union Cabinet Secretariat has notified rules reiterating that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be the authority on deciding the imposition of AFSPA in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh. As per the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, the UT of J&K will have a legislative assembly but Ladakh will not have one. The new LG of both the Union Territories were sworn in on Thursday but there is no sign of elections yet. Before the state of J&K was bifurcated, it was the MHA or the Governor that issued authority on Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special Powers Act, 1990 (21 of 1990).
The notification issued by cabinet secretary also renamed Department of Jammu and Kashmir in MHA as “Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs”. The notification said the MHA department will be responsible for all matters relating to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir or UT of Ladakh, including counter terrorism within J&K and coordination with the ministry of defence in regards to manning and managing the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, but excluding those with which the ministry of external affairs is concerned.
“All matters falling within the purview of the Union Government in terms of the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019) relating to both the Union Territories, except all such matters as have been specifically assigned under these rules to any other Ministry or Department of the Government of India,” it said. In Ladakh, the Department of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh Affairs will be responsible for all matters enumerated in the State List and Concurrent List except all those which have been specifically assigned to any other ministry or department of the Centre.