To minimize financial burden of the annual 'Darbar Move' practice on the state exchequer, the J&K government, first time in history, has decided to shun the requirement of physical movement of files and records from Jammu to Srinagar and vice-versa.

Ironically in the era of technology, the cash-starved J&K government, every year, spends a whopping amount of Rs 200 crores on 'Darbar Move' by hiring hundreds of trucks to carry files from one capital to another.

This time authorities have clearly mentioned that only 10 trucks will be engaged, that too, shifting highly sensitive and confidential files. A clear direction has been given to all administrative heads to digitalize all files by April 15, 2021.

On Monday evening, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, Commissioner/Secretary General Administration Department (GAD) on Monday issued instructions for the annual Darbar Move of offices from Jammu to Srinagar.

In a circular issued by Dwivedi it is clearly mentioned, "In order to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the government, and to obviate the requirement of physical movement of files/records from Jammu to Srinagar and vice-versa, it has been decided to completely switch over to e-office by April, 15 2021. To ensure its timely implementation all records/files of various Government Departments have been digitized except some files/records which are sensitive/confidential in nature and requires to be carried to Srinagar."

Civil secretariat building in Srinagar. File image.
Civil secretariat building in Srinagar. File image.

The order further directed that while finalizing Darbar Move arrangements, it has been decided that only ten trucks shall be arranged for shifting such sensitive records/files to Srinagar.

"Accordingly, it is impressed upon all the Administrative Secretaries to compile a list of such confidential/sensitive files/records, including files/records of respective subordinate move offices, which have not been scanned and require to be carried to Srinagar. The quantum of such files be provided by all the departments to the GAD, April 15, 2021 for approval", the order reads as, adding, "Further, arrangements shall also be put in place by all the Administrative Secretaries in the Civil Secretariat, Jammu for maintaining and retrieval of files/records by retaining some manpower record keepers from each Department at Jammu".

What is Darbar Move?

The practice of Darbar Move was started in 1872 by Maharaja Gulab Singh-the first Dogra ruler of J&K, to escape the extreme heat of Jammu during summers and the biting cold of winters in Srinagar.

Srinagar J&K flag

However, the practice was continued by elected governments post-Independence in order to provide access to people of both the regions by turns to the seat of power in the erstwhile State.

The J&K government spends Rs 200 crores every year to shift files and other records between the two capital cities twice a year, besides paying Move Allowance for thousands of employees, who shift their base with the government.

Since long different sections have been demanding that this practice should be abolished by setting up permanent Civil Secretariats in Jammu and Srinagar cities respectively so that problems of people can be addressed throughout the year apart from saving the public exchequer

Suggested Box

In a historic decision on May 5, 2020, the J&K High Court had directed the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to take a call on bi-annual 'Darbar Move' practice in J&K.

"Can any government afford the annual expenditure of at-least Rs.200 crores (as disclosed and many more hundreds of crores of rupees of undisclosed costs) to sustain and perpetuate an arrangement of bi-annual shifting of its capital two times a year, which originated in 1872 from the discomfort of the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir with the harshness of the winter in Kashmir?", the Court had asked.

"More so is this acceptable in a hopelessly fiscally deprived UT with severe underdevelopment and people deprived of bare basics which are essential part of their fundamental right of life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India", the High Court had observed.