Several elected District Development Council (DDC) members have challenged the roster of women reservation for the offices of chairpersons of DDCs in the High Court.
The move to change the roster formula for women reservation from 1, 4, 7 and 10 to 3, 6, 9, and 12 alphabetically has hit the roadblock after some elected DDC members approached the court alleging “attempt to favour some candidates”, one of the petitioners said.
“The petition is likely to come up before the court on Friday,” Congress chief spokesman, Ravinder Sharma said. “Although the elected DDC members belong to Congress, they have filed petitions in their individual capacity as members of DDCs.”
Sharma said that J&K already had SO-330 of October 24, 2020 which provides criteria of women reservation for the members of DDCs and chairpersons of DDCs.
This roster says that the women reservation would be based on 1, 4, 7, 10 criteria.
Sharma said that in the same rule it was written that the same criterion should be applicable to the office of chairperson of DDC (as per the roster norms for DDC members).
However, the new SO-13 (related to the reservation of chairpersons of DDC) of January 11, 2021 was issued by the government, which has neither superseded the previous SO-330 nor discussed the existing criteria and the need to change the same departing from the previous SO.
Sharma said that ignoring all norms, they issued another SO that the reservation of women DDCs members would be on the norms of 3, 6, 9, 12 and this was being questioned especially in view of the already existing SO-330 – which is just two months old but was issued prior to DDC polls.
“What was the need to bring a new rule when there is already a rule which prescribes the criterion of 1, 4, 7, and 10 then how can another rule fix criterion 3, 6, 9, 12,” he said.
Sharma said that the departure from the already existing rule was being pointed out in the petition.
Another senior Congress leader in Jammu said, “Going by the rules, the guiding parameter should be the ‘aggregate population’ instead of ‘proportion’ of population of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes in a particular district.”
This Congress leader said, “This goes against the letter and spirit of Indian Constitution, Panchayati Raj Act as well as the practice and precedent in other states.”
Resultantly, the matter has ultimately landed in the court.
Sharma said it was really amusing to see that smaller districts with greater proportion of SCs and STs are going to escape reservation while larger districts with lesser population percentage are going to be reserved as per new the rule.
“Samba despite having the largest SC population percentage will remain ‘open’ and Anantnag district which has just 14 percent Schedule Tribe population may be reserved for STs. Similarly, Ramban and Kishtwar districts are going to be reserved for women,” the Congress leader said.