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How Mehbooba Mufti’s government is empowering women

The state has abolished stamp duties on property purchased and registered in the name of women.

 |  2-minute read |   13-05-2018
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Amid the continuing strife in Kashmir Valley, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has come up with a progressive and innovative move that, she hopes, will bear “far-reaching economic consequences” for womenfolk in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Key among several decisions taken by the People’s Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government, in Srinagar on May 11, was to completely abolish the levying of stamp duties on property, both urban and rural, purchased and registered in the name of women.

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Using the medium so avidly preferred by her political brethren in Srinagar, Delhi and elsewhere, Mehbooba proclaimed the new state norm in a tweet shortly after the meeting of the state Cabinet on Friday: “Pleased to announce that we have abolished stamp duty on the sale of property registered in the name of females. This incentive will encourage families to register their properties in the name of their sisters, daughters, wives & mothers.”

It would, notwithstanding the prevailing patriarchal biases in the region, certainly make sense for families to take advantage of the concession. As it now stands, landed property, if registered in the name of a male, would attract a stamp duty of five per cent in urban areas, and three per cent in rural areas. Ownership registered to a woman is without any levy.

Public works minister Naeem Akhtar says the concession would be effective immediately. As per J&K’s urban and rural revenue records, ownership of property — houses and agricultural land — vests predominantly with men. According to the chief minister, despite “contributing the maximum to our society”, a mere 33 per cent of women in the 15-49 age group own homes. In contrast the number stands at 81 per cent for menfolk.

The numbers for landed property, including farmland and orchards, is similarly skewed, and Mehbooba hopes to change that. Her move, that reportedly follows long consultations with women and other civil society groups, has been predictably applauded by both politicians and civil society in J&K.

PDP spokesperson Rafi Ahmad Mir described the decision as a path-breaking initiative that was now out there for other Indian states to emulate. He said it was part of the PDP’s commitment to empowering the state’s women. Akhtar told reporters in Srinagar that it would “incentivise economic empowerment” of women.

Even the “estranged” former finance minister Haseeb Drabu, who was rather unceremoniously removed for some controversial utterances at a function in Delhi, has supported Mehbooba’s decision. Drabu said that it would help “gender-balancing of social power relations” in the state. 

(Courtesy of Mail Today

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Asit Jolly Asit Jolly @asitjolly

Journalist with India Today magazine.

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