Recently on January 7, 2021 a seamless change in J&K Administration took place which was not even noticed by many unlike what happened on August 5 & 6, 2019 when Article 370 was abrogated in essence and J&K Reorganisation Act was passed converting the erstwhile State into two UT’s. On January 7, 2021 the President of India promulgated an Ordinance amending the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. The most significant amendment is the substitution of Section 88 thereof with a new Section. The effect of this substitution is the absorption of the existing IAS, IPS and IFS officers of the erstwhile State in the Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories cadre (AGMUT in short).
Prior to that the original Section 88 provided for the final allocation of these existing officers to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, and that the J&K cadre itself was not abolished. This is a very significant development holding a very important message within it nulceus which many commentators seem to have ignored due to the cryptic legal language employed in Section 88.Until now the common perception was that after stablising the situation post abrogation of Article 370 in its essence and attainging a sustainable political scenario in J&K, statehood will be restored to the Union Territory of J&K (not Ladakh) by Modi Government in near future. That is why the J&K cadre itself had not been abolished in 2019.
But now with the merger of the J&K cadre in AGMUT cadre through this ordinance, it appears that the Modi Government has made up its mind to keep J&K as a UT only either permanently or for a very considerable period; atleast this is the readable impression which one can gather from this development. In future if statehood is ever restored to J&K at some point of time, still the J&K will remain part of AGMUT cadre as the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Mizoram have remained part of AGMUT cadre despite their conversion from UT’s to States in the past. This will ensure that these important All-India services officers posted in J&K are drawn from a larger group/cadre and serve their short tenures here so that the local politicians do not cultivate a coterie of officers dedicated to them in administration.This amendment of far-reaching consequences needs to be understood and analysed by the academia and the political commentators in its true perspective.