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Delimitation Comm expedites process, set to share draft report with Associate Members

Meeting likely to be called shortly in national capital

*Submission to Govt, putting in public domain to take time

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Oct 17: The Delimitation Commission is in the process of preparing draft report and share it with five Associate Members of the Panel before submitting it to the Government and putting it in the public domain for inviting claims and objections.
“The process, however, could take time,” sources told the Excelsior.
They said the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai and comprising Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and State Election Commissioner (SEC) KK Sharma is likely to call a meeting with Associate Members of the Commission to discuss the draft report.
“There is still a question mark on whether all five Associate Members, who happen to be five Lok Sabha MPs from Jammu and Kashmir including three belonging to National Conference and two to BJP, will attend the meeting as the NC is yet to formally announce that it will join the proceedings.
The Associate Members from the BJP including Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma, MP Jammu-Poonch seat had attended first meeting of the Panel on February 18. It was boycotted by all three NC Lok Sabha MPs including Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi on the ground that the party has challenged Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act in the Supreme Court under which the Commission has been constituted.
Sources said after sharing draft report with the Associate Members, the Delimitation Commission will submit it to the Government for putting it in the public domain for inviting claims and objections.
The report will be finalized after settling claims and objections received from the political parties and local people.
“Entire process is time consuming,” they said but added that the Delimitation Commission has its tenure till March 6, 2022 and till then it will be able to finalize its report if everything goes well.
According to insiders in the National Conference, the chances are that the National Conference might attend the Delimitation Commission meeting for the Associate Members as it had associated with the Panel during its four days visit to Jammu and Kashmir from July 6-9.
The Delimitation Commission was set up on March 6, 2019 with a term of one year which was further extended by another year on March 6, 2020 due to COVID pandemic and other reasons.
Once the delimitation exercise is completed, the number of Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir will go up from 83 to 90.
Twenty-four seats of the Assembly continue to remain vacant as they fall under Pakistan occupied Jammu Kashmir (PoJK).
While splitting Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories through the Reorganization Act, the Union Home Ministry had increased Assembly seats of Jammu and Kashmir by seven taking total seats to 114—-24 of which are reserved for PoJK while election will be held for 90 seats.
Erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir had 111 seats including 24 reserved for PoJK while elections were held for 87 seats. With creation of Ladakh as Union Territory, four seats of the region were reduced and the Assembly was left with 83 seats. However, with increase of seven seats, J&K UT will have an Assembly of 90 seats. Two Women MLAs will be nominated to the House, which was the position earlier also.
In the previous Assembly, Kashmir had 46 seats, Jammu 37 and Ladakh four.
Delimitation of the Assembly constituencies was last held in 1994-95 during the President’s Rule when seats of the erstwhile State Assembly were raised from 76 to 87. Jammu region’s seats were increased from 32 to 37, Kashmir’s from 42 to 46 and Ladakh’s two to four. However, the delimitation was freezed in 2002 by the then National Conference Government headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah in lines with the decision taken by then Central Government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Elections to the Legislative Assembly will be held only after delimitation of Assembly constituencies is completed.

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