Delimitation commission to visit J&K from July 6-9

After PM Modi's nudge, delimitation commission to visit Jammu and Kashmir from July 6-9

The commission is tasked with redrawing the parliamentary and assembly constituencies in J&K

Credit: PTI file photo

The commission constituted for delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir has decided to visit the Union Territory from July 6 to 9 – signalling its intent to speed up its work, as recently suggested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The commission will interact with leaders of political parties and public representatives as well as officials of the Union Territory administration, including the Deputy Commissioners and the District Election Officers in order to seek inputs required to carry forward the process of delimitation.

The National Conference had boycotted the first meeting of the Delimitation Commission in February.

Ahead of its visit to J&K, the panel has now sought cooperation from all stakeholders in the delimitation process and urged all to provide valuable suggestions so that its task could be completed timely.

The Delimitation Commission, headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai, had a meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, who is an ex-officio member of the commission, also attended the meeting. The panel decided to visit J&K to “gather first-hand information”.

The panel had already had a series of meetings and studied data and maps of the 20 districts of the Union Territory of J&K related to the Census 2011.

The Prime Minister on June 24 had a meeting with the leaders of the political parties of J&K – the first such interaction after his government on August 5 2019 moved to strip the erstwhile state of its special status and reorganized it into two Union Territories. He assured the J&K leaders that the elections would be held in the Union Territory soon after completion of the delimitation exercise. He stated that it was the priority of his government to strengthen grass-root democracy in J&K. He also tweeted that the delimitation process should move “at a quick pace” so that polls could happen in J&K.

The Union Government had on March 6, 2020 constituted the commission to redraw the boundaries of the parliamentary and the assembly constituencies in the newly constituted Union Territory in accordance with the provision of the J&K Reorganization Act 2019.

The Act provides for raising the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union territory of J&K from 107 to 114, with 24 seats to be reserved for India's territory in J&K currently under illegal occupation of Pakistan.

The panel had invited its five associate members – Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi of the National Conference and Jugal Kishore Sharma and Jitendra Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party – to attend a meeting on February 18.

But only Singh, who is also a Union Minister, and Sharma had taken part in the meeting. Abdullah, Lone and Masoodi had sent a letter to Desai, pointing out that the delimitation process should not be carried forward as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 itself had been under scrutiny of the Supreme Court.

The term of the Delimitation Commission was extended by another year in March 2021 in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The panel has so far received a number of representations from civil societies and members of the public from the Union Territory on various aspects concerning delimitation. The Commission has already taken note of all such suggestions and directed that these may be deliberated further in the context of ground realities concerning delimitation, according to a press-release issued after the meeting on Wednesday.

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