The Group of Interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir was appointed by the Central Government in October 2010 under the Chairmanship of the eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar It was tasked to hold-wide - ranging discussions with all sections of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir in order to identify the political contours of a solution to the problems of the state.
The Group submitted its report to the Union Home Minister in October2011. The report is entitled “A New Compact with the People of Jammu and Kashmir'".
The Group did not recommend a pure and simple return to the pre-1953 situation. This would create a dangerous constitutional vacuum in the Centre- state relationship. The clock cannot be set back.
Instead, the Group recommended the establishment of a Constitutional Committee to review all Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir after signing of the Delhi Agreement of 1952
The Constitutional Committee should be headed by a distinguished jurist who enjoys esteem and respect in the state and in the rest of the country. Its members should be constitutional / legal experts from the state and the rest of India. Their choice should be acceptable to all stake-holders.
In the exercise of its mandate, the Constitutional Committee should bear in mind the dual character of Jammu and Kashmir, viz., that it is a constituent unit of the Indian Union and that it enjoys a special status in the said Union, enshrined in Article 370 of the Constitution of India. It should also bear in mind the dual character of the people of the state, viz that they are both state subjects and Indian citizens. The review should, therefore, have to determine whether - and to what extent - the Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India, extended with or without amendment to the state, have dented Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and abridged the state government’s powers to cater to the welfare of its people.
The Constitutional Committee should be future-oriented in that it should conduct its review solely on the basis of the powers that the state needs to address the political, economic, social and cultural interests, concerns, grievances and aspirations of the people in all the three regions of the state - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - and all its sub-regions and communities. In this connection, the Committee should also need to reflect on the quantum of legislative, financial and administrative powers that the state government should delegate to the three regions at all levels of governance - the regional, district and panchayat / municipality.
The Constitutional Committee should be requested to complete its work within six months. Its recommendations must be reached through consensus so that they are acceptable to all stake-holders represented in the State Assembly and in Parliament. The next step would be for the President, in exercise of the powers conferred by Clauses (1) and (3) of Article 370 of the Constitution, to issue an order incorporating the recommendations of the Constitutional Committee. The order would need to be ratified by a bill in both Houses of Parliament and by each House in the State Legislature by a margin of not less than two-thirds majority of the total membership present and voting in each House. It would then be presented to the President for assent. Once this process is over, Clauses (1) and (3) of Article 370 shall cease to be operative and no orders shall be made by the President hereafter under the said clauses as from the date of the final order.
The recommendations of the Group on certain issues of contention are as follows: