24 seats reserved for PaK to remain vacant: Delimitation Commission

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Delimitation Commission on Friday clarified that it role was limited to delimiting additional seats only and that the 24 seats reserved for the Pakistan administered Kashmir shall remain vacant in strict compliance to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

Addressing a presser before winding up its 4-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Commission said that apprehensions of the exercise being a pre-planned one “should be shunned now.”

Chief Election Commissioner of India Sushil Chandra said that Delimitation Commission would base its final report on the 2011 Census.

He said that Commission will also take into account the topography, difficult terrain, means of communication and convenience available while delimiting seven additional seats for Assembly of the Union Territory (UT), besides granting reservation to the Schedule Tribe (ST) and Schedule Caste (SC) communities.

“As Supreme Court has said, delimitation is not a mathematical exercise. It must reflect the political aspirations of society bound in a particular geography,” he said as per GNS, adding, “Though the population forms the base (for delimitation), the Commission shall take into account constituencies’ practicality, geographical compatibility, topography, physical features, means of communication and convenience available.”

He said the delimitation of 1995 was based on the 1981 Census and took into account 14 districts only.

“In 2020, (this) delimitation was constituted to carry on the exercise on the basis of 2011 census as per section 62 of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019,” he said, adding, ““In 1995, there were 12 districts. The number has gone up to 20 now. The number of tehsils has gone up from 58 to 270. He said that in 12 districts, constituency boundaries are extended beyond the district’s limit.

“There is an overlapping of districts as well as the tehsils in Constituencies. All such facts indicate that the public faces inconvenience due to such anomalies.’

Chandra also clarified that 24 seats reserved for Pak would not be delimited in this process.

“Twenty four seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall remain vacant and shall not be taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the Assembly,” he said refered to section 14 of the Act, adding, “the said area and seats shall be excluded in delimiting the territorial constituencies as provided under PART V of this Act.”

He said the commission will also specify the number of seats to be reserved for the SC and the ST in the Legislative Assembly of the UT. “It will be for the first time that seats will be reserved for the ST in J&K,” he noted.

Referring to section 60 of the Act, he said that it specifies 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.

Elaborating, he said, the Act among others provides that 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.

“Meaning thereby, the delimitation has to be done on census of 2011.”

On the process of arriving at a final draft, he said the Commission had taken into account the representations made by 290 groups, comprising 800 people.

“A draft report will be prepared, wherein the suggestions of the associate members will also be taken into account. Thereafter, it will be in the public domain for a consensus. Only after the fresh comments, the final draft will be prepared. Opportunity will be given to people at large to take into account all the views,” he stated.

Referring to the Peoples Democratic Party’s accusations that the panel’s decisions were pre-planned, Chandra said, “If it was so, we would not have held such broad-based consultations. I would suggest that such apprehensions should be shunned now. The idea of coming to J&K and visiting Srinagar, Pahalgam, Kishtwar and Jammu was to get peoples perspectives. People from far-off areas were able to share their difficulties. All said they were happy with the process.” (GNS)

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