“Is BJP conspiring to allot larger share of Assembly seats to Kashmir?”

Newsroom24x7 Network

Jammu: “While delimitation of Assembly Constituencies in J&K ought to have been the priority and a main concern of the BJP led Central Government in view of its repeated assurances over the subject, the process for this purpose has been inordinately delayed creating several apprehensions in the political and social circles”.

This was stated by Harsh Dev Singh, Chairman-JKNPP & former Jammu and Kashmir Minister, at a press conference here on Saturday 30 May. “It was on August 5, 2019 that Parliament passed the J&K Reorganization Act providing for 107 Assembly seats Section 14 (1) (3) of the relevant Act for the new UT to be bifurcated in accordance with the new criteria laid down in Sec 60 of this Act, which further says: “Without prejudice to sub-sections (3) of section 14 of this Act, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114, and delimitation of the constituencies may be determined by the Election Commission in the manner hereinafter provided …..[Section 60 (1)], Singh pointed out adding “the Centre as well as the state BJP leadership during this period has indulged in a lot of Jangle and rattle with tall claims of addressing all bias against the Jammu region and ending the political hegemony of Kashmir by increasing the Assembly seats of Jammu region. It is however regrettable that the very same leadership has failed to ensure even the commencement delimitation exercise despite lapse of ten months”.

Singh further said that we are not only confornted with controversies being created over composition of the Delimitation Commission but BJP has also started giving feelers of a possible lower share for Jammu region in the event of Delimitation being held as per census 2011. The BJP in its bid to further appease Kashmir, it appears, is planning to give it a higher number of Assembly seats by cleverly conveying to the people that the population of Kashmir region as per 2011 census was higher than that of Jammu region. And all this gimmickry is being resorted to notwithstanding the fact that J&K Reorganization Act of 2019 does not give any weightage to population in the process of delimiting of Assembly seats.

Singh went on to underscore that under the J&K Reorganization Act, Jammu region is entitled a higher number of seats vis-à-vis Kashmir in view of the criteria laid down in Section 60 of the Act. He elucidated that the new criteria laid down in this Act provided that “geographical compactness physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and convenience of the public” shall be the factors to be taken into consideration while delimiting the constituencies in the new UT. “The population factor which was the major consideration in the erstwhile law on delimitation has been dropped in the Reorganization Act 2019 and the population factor will matter only in the constituencies to be reserved for SC and ST so as to ensure that only those seats are reserved where the proportion of their population to the total population is largest. With the new criteria weighing heavily in favour of Jammu region, it was entitled to more than 50 seats in the Assembly and minimum of 3 seats in Parliament.

All constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them, regard shall be had to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and conveniences to the public; and (c) constituencies in which seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall, as far as practicable, be located in areas where the proportion of their population to the total population is the largest.

THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION ACT, 2019; Section 60 (2), (b) and (c)

Seeking early conclusion of the Delimitation process, Singh expressed the hope that the aspirations of the people of Jammu region, who are expecting a fair deal in terms of political power, would be duly honoured in a time-bound and transparent manner.

Yash Paul Kundal, General Secretary-JKNPP & former State Minister and Gagan Partap Singh, Secretary-JKNPP were also present at the press conference.


THE JAMMU AND KASHMIR REORGANISATION ACT, 2019

Delimitation of constituencies.

(1) Without prejudice to sub-sections (3) of section 14 of this Act, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114, and delimitation of the constituencies may be determined by the Election Commission in the manner hereinafter provided—
(a) the number of seats to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly, having regard to the relevant provisions of the Constitution;
(b) the assembly constituencies into which the Union territory shall be divided, the extent of each of such constituencies and in which of them seats shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes or for the Scheduled Tribes; and
(c) the adjustments in the boundaries and description of the extent of the parliamentary constituencies in each Union territory that may be necessary or expedient.
(2) In determining the matters referred to in clauses (b) and (c) of sub-section (1), the Election Commission shall have regard to the following provisions, namely:—
(a) all the constituencies shall be single-member constituencies;
(b) all constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them, regard shall be had to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and conveniences to the public; and

(c) constituencies in which seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall, as far as practicable, be located in areas where the proportion of their population to the total population is the largest.
(3) The Election Commission shall, for the purpose of assisting it in the performance of its functions under sub-section (1), associate with itself as associate members, four persons as the Central Government may by order specify, being persons who are the members of the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir or four members of the House of the people representing the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir: Provided that none of the associate members shall have a right to vote or to sign any decision of the Election Commission.
(4) If, owing to death or resignation, the office of an associate member falls vacant, it shall be filled as far as practicable, in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (3).
(5) The Election Commission shall—
(a) publish its proposals for the delimitation of constituencies together with the dissenting proposals, if any, of any associate member who desires publication thereof in the Official Gazette and in such other manner as the Commission may consider fit, together with a notice inviting objections and suggestions in relation to the proposals and specifying a date on or after which the proposals will be further considered by it;
(b) consider all objections and suggestions which may have been received by it before the date so specified; and
(c) after considering all objections and suggestions which may have been received by it before the date so specified, determine by one or more orders the delimitation of constituencies and cause such order or orders to be published in the Official Gazette, and there upon such publication, the order or orders shall have the full force of law and shall not be called in question in any court.
(6) As soon as may be after such publication, every such order relating to assembly constituencies shall be laid before the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

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