Hidden Agenda Behind Amendment To Statistical ACT
By Abdul Majid Zargar
31 July, 2015
New Delhi has proposed to amend the Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 (hereinafter referred to as Central Act )so as to enable it to bring within it’s ambit the State of Jammu and Kashmir. If the amendment goes through, New-Delhi will be able to collect & process data relating to statistical subjects falling in the Union List as applicable to Jammu and Kashmir State under the Constitutional (Application to J&K ) Order 1954.
It may be noted that J&K State has its own law on the subject titled “The Jammu and Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010” (hereinafter referred to as State Act ). It was passed/amended after two years of the passage of the Central Act. Obviously much thought & deliberations must have gone into the process of finalising the two acts. So what is the need to amend the central Act now? Union Minstry of Statistics & Programme implementation, which is responsible for implementing & monitoring the Central Act, has furnished following justification for the proposed amendment.
“The Collection of Statistics Act, 2008 is not applicable to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010 enacted by the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature extends to the whole of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature has legislative powers to enact laws on ‘statistics’ which fall under the concurrent and residuary powers reserved for the State under the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order 1954. The Central Act and the Jammu and Kashmir Collection of Statistics Act, 2010 are not applicable to the statistical subjects falling in the Union List, as applicable to Jammu & Kashmir under the aforementioned 1954 Order. This has created a legislative vacuum. Moreover, the concurrent jurisdiction to be exercised by the Centre has also not been provided for, in the Central Act. The proposed amendment is intended to address this vacuum.”
The justification furnished by the Concerned Union Minstry is higly absurd to say the least. While it is agreed that as the prevailing constitutional arrangement, J&K State is not empowered to legislate on matters specified in the Union List ( Defence, Foreign affairs & Communication etc.) but the State is fully empowered to collect & process data, regulate & administer the incidental matters . One such instance is procurement of labor for defense. The State has a full fledged Defence labour procurement Department which has elaborate rules & regulations for procurement of such labor for supply to defence units. Another instance is collection & processing of data like land allotted to or occupied by defence personnel . In short collection & processing of such data on subjects in the union list is not the same thing as legislating on those subjects. By dint of the proposed amendment , the State will be divested of all such powers, legislative or executive, to be administered & exercised directly by Centre.
The matter does not end here. There is something more than meets the eye. New-Delhi also proposes to amend section 33 of the central Act to provide for the manner in which personal information collected shall be used & regulated . Personal information has been defined in clause 2(d) of Statistical rules 2011 to mean “any information, whether true or not and whether recorded in material form or not about an informant whose identity can reasonably be ascertained from such information”. Looking to its dubious past record, New-Delhi can contend tomorrow that personal information regarding border area residents is a defense subject on which State has no Control or Power. It may settle non-state subjects along the border without any data or information being forwarded to State Govt. It may contend that it has the exclusive control over such personal information which reveals their identity. Unfortunately voices have also been heard recently to settle ex-army personnel in border areas of the State with economic benefits & perquisites . Is the proposed amendment a pre-cursor to the implementation of that nefarious design? Questions are many but answers are few. State Govt. must come clean on the issue as silence is no option.
(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Comments are moderated