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HC asks J&K govt to revisit 148-year old Darbar Move practice

Srinagar,   The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday asked the government to decide whether the 148-year old practice of shuttling the seat of governance, known as the Darbar Move, can be continued despite the huge expenditure of Rs 200 crore spent annually to carry on the practice.

Darbar Move is the name given to the bi-annual shift of the secretariat and all other government offices of J&K from Srinagar (May to October) to Jammu (November to April).

A division bench of the J&K High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Oswal directed the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary to place the court’s judgement before a competent authority so that a considered decision can be taken on the issue.

The high court ruled that the practice started in 1872 by the then Maharaja Ranbir Singh cannot be continued by a Union Territory whose fiscal situation was ‘hopeless’.

The court also held that in this case the emotional rhetoric of groups of people cannot override public interest.

“We also have to examine the propriety of the perpetuation of the arrangement which cannot be sourced to any constitutional or legal provisions,” the judgement observed.

Over the years since 1947, the royal practice of shuttling the seat of governance between Srinagar and Jammu to avoid both the winter cold of the Valley and the scorching summer heat of Jammu has assumed political overtones.

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic this year, only a minimal shifting of the offices between Jammu and Srinagar has taken place.

Employees of the civil secretariat that houses all the top administrative offices of the government have been asked to work on a ‘as is where is basis’ this year.

According to this arrangement, employees of Kashmir have come back to the Valley while those belonging to the Jammu region will function from there till further orders.

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