In a significant move, the Delimitation Commission has held a meeting on J & K. The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) Mrs. Ranjana Prakash Desai in the august presence of the Chief Election Commissioner, State Election Commissioner, Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir met all the five Associate Members viz. Dr Farooq Abdullah, MP, DrJitendra Singh, MP. Sh Mohammad Akbar Lone, MP, Sh. Hasnain Masoodi, MP, Sh. Jugal Kishore Sharma, MP.
Also, its second meeting was held with Associate Members for the purposes of delimitation of assembly constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. These were the first such meetings held on 18th February 2021. The Chief Electoral Officer, Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir has also attended the meeting.
Records of these meetings reveal that Chairperson welcomed the Associate Members for coming forward for the meeting and hoped that this meeting would help in carrying out the work of delimitation of J & K assemblies smoothly.
Chief Election Commissioner in his remark shared the experiences of the Commission of interacting with people in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir during its visit. He emphasized that the work of delimitation is being carried out within the overall statutory framework and keeping the interest of common people of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
He highlighted Section 9(1)(a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 read with Section 60(2)(b) of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, which specifies that all constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and regard shall be had to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and public conveniences.
Associate Members appreciated the fact that this Commission visited the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and met large number of people in person. They assured that all necessary assistance would be extended in the work of delimitation.
Sh Chandra Bhushan Kumar, Senior Deputy Election Commissioner gave detail presentation on the work done. He informed that in the Union Territory, since last delimitation, number of districts has increased from 12 to 20 and number of tehsils from 52 to 207. The population density in the districts of the Union Territory varies from 29 persons per square km in Kishtwar to 3436 persons per square km in Srinagar.
In the Union Territory, the administration has been allocating compensatory allowance to government officials working in the specific areas on grounds of remoteness of the place, its inaccessibility, severe inclement weather conditions, its remaining cut off from the rest of the State (now Union Territory) for a period of time, lack and gross inadequacy of medical, educational, residential and other basic amenities of life, its health hazards and similar other rigorous conditions of living.
The Union Territory shares international boundary and in those locations, the inhabitants are forced to take shelter, intermittently, in bunkers due to continued inhospitable and uncertain living conditions.
Thereafter, the Commission explained that taking all these into account, the Delimitation Commission has categorized all 20 districts in three broad categories A, B and C giving margin of +/- 10% of average population per Assembly Constituency (AC), while proposing allocation of the constituencies to the districts.
The Commission has also, for some districts, proposed carving out of an additional Constituency to balance the representation for geographical areas having inadequate communication and lack of public conveniences due to their excessive remoteness or inhospitable conditions on the international border. For the first time, in Jammu and Kashmir, 9 (Nine) seats are proposed to be allocated for Scheduled Tribes out of 90 seats on the basis of population. Seven seats are proposed for Scheduled Castes.
The Commission shared Paper – I describing the proposed seat allocation at the level of districts with all the Members with the request to furnish their views/comments/suggestions by 31.12.2021.
The meeting ended with thanks to the Chair.