Staff Reporter

Permanent Resident Certificate modified to give equal rights to women

Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir Government has dispensed with the `valid till marriage' clause in the Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC), thus bringing the women of the State on a par with men. Earlier, the PRC was valid only till marriage for women whereas there was no such condition for men.

The PRC is one of the most important documents in the State, as without it one cannot buy land, get employment or get admission in professional institutions. The certificate is given to those whose ancestors lived in the State for at least 10 years before May 14, 1954.

High Court ruling

The issue gender iniquity came to focus on October 7, 2002, when the Jammu and Kashmir High Court struck down the executive order of the State Government which stated that the PRC of women of the State was valid only till marriage, implying that if the women married outside the State they would lose their certificate.

The High Court ruled that women would have the same rights as men even if they married outside the State. It was challenged by the State government in the Supreme Court. But within a year, it decided to withdraw the special leave petition.

"Eroding special status"

The Opposition charged the Government with trying to erode the special status of the State guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution and after this a special Bill was brought in the Assembly in March 2004. It unanimously passed a Bill seeking to withdraw the Permanent Resident Status (PRS) of women belonging to the State who marry non-permanent residents. However, the Bill was not passed by the Upper House.Women have welcomed the removal of the archaic clause.