The Supreme Court on Friday sought responses from the central government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a petition challenging the delimitation move proposal. A delimitation panel has recommended increasing the assembly seats from 83 to 90 in the union territory.
The panel’s report also called for the reorganisation of the Parliamentary constituencies such that the five Lok Sabha seats now are made up of exactly 18 Assembly constituencies each, taking the total number to 90.
The panel also recommended reservation of nine Assembly seats for Scheduled Tribes – six in Jammu and three in Kashmir, and removal of the regional distinction between Jammu and Kashmir and treating it as one, as is reflected in the combining of Anantnag region in Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu to carve out Anantnag-Rajouri as a Parliamentary constituency.
The petition - filed by the residents of J&K - also sought a declaration that the constitution of the Delimitation Commission under the Delimitation Act 2022 is without power, jurisdiction and authority. The next hearing in the matter is slated for August 30.
Last week, a panel - tasked with redrawing of the J&K constituencies - finalised the union territory’s electoral map, concluding the controversial exercise and paving the way for elections in the region. The big move comes for the first time after the special status under Article 370 was scrapped under Article 370.
The delimitation panel, also comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and the state Election Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir as ex-officio members, completed the exercise in two years.
The panel was set up in March 2020. It was granted a one-year extension last year. In February, it was given a two-month extension to complete its task. Its term was to end on March 6, 2022.
According to the notification, the Commission has suggested increasing the seats from 46 to 47 in the Kashmir region, while in the Jammu region seats will be increased from 37 to 43, as now J&K will have 90 Assembly constituencies.
The six new Assembly constituencies in the Jammu region are being carved out from Rajouri, Doda, Udhampur, Kishtwar, Kathua and Samba districts. The one new seat for the Kashmir Valley has been carved out from the Kupwara district.
As per the notification, the Commission has reserved nine seats for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe population and all five Parliamentary constituencies will have equal number of Assembly segments for the first time.
The Commission has merged parts of Rajouri-Poonch areas with Kashmir’s Anantnag parliamentary constituency. This is for the first time a political unit has been created that transcends the geographical boundary between the Kashmir and the Jammu regions.