Delimitation Commission likely to get extension, may defer assembly polls in J-K

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Following the objection raised by the mainstream political parties over the redraw of the assembly seats, the Delimitation Commission is likely to get another extension which could further lead to delay in the assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir (J-K).

The delimitation commission proposal to add six additional assembly seats for Jammu and one seat in Kashmir was not well received by the mainstream political parties in the valley.

All the major political parties termed the commission’s recommendation “unacceptable” and “unfair” to the people of Kashmir.

Sources said that the commission would meet in a month to further deliberate on the proposal before putting it again into the public domain. The Commission was granted a one year extension till March 2021.

Sources said the extension would further delay the assembly polls that were likely to be held at the onset of summer season.

On 24 October, home minister Amit Shah during his three day visit to the erstwhile state while laying out the “roadmap” for the J-K, said that the statehood would be restored only after the delimitation followed by the elections.

As per the draft proposal the panel has proposed to increase one assembly seat each in Kathua, Samba, Udhampur, Doda, Kishtwar and Rajouri districts in the Jammu region. And one assembly seat in Kupwara district.

The nine seats have also been proposed for Scheduled Tribe [ST] and seven for Scheduled Caste [SC] in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the first time that seats have been proposed for STs in Jammu and Kashmir.

The associate members of five Lok Sabha members from Jammu and Kashmir that include NC leader Farooq Abdullah and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi  had attended the delimitation meeting in December last year.

Not satisfied with the proposal, the NC leaders later submitted their dissent note to the commission.

NC had earlier boycotted the meeting of the panel held in February terming its participation endorsing the 5 August 2019 decision [Abrogation of Article 370].

As per census 2011, J-K has a population of 1.25 crores, with 68.8 lakhs in Kashmir division and 53.5 lakhs in Jammu division.

The delimitation commission is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra is an ex-officio member of the panel.

The commission, under the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, is mandated to carve out seven more constituencies to the 83-member UT Assembly. The J&K Delimitation Commission came into existence under provisions of Part V of the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002, passed by the Centre in August 2019 along with other J&K-specific Bills.

The Jammu and Kashmir as a whole had a total of 111 seats; with 24 reserved and vacant for Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK), while J&K would hold elections for 87 seats, including four from Ladakh, after a six-year term, unlike the rest of the India where assemblies have a five-year term. 

With the proposed seats, the total assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir have risen to 90. In Jammu, the number of seats has gone up to 43 from 37, and in Kashmir, by one seat to 47.

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