Delimitation Commission gets one-year extension to conclude its task in J&K

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The Delimitation Commission, a panel for redrawing the parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, has got a one-year extension, a move indicating that the Assembly polls in the Union Territory would not be held anytime soon.

A gazette notification issued by the government on Wednesday night said the panel, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, will get one more year for completing its task in the Union Territory, which came into existence on October, 2019 after the Centre abrogated the special status of the erstwhile state in August that year and announced its reorganization.

The panel was set up last year to redraw the electoral constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir and four northeastern states — Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. However, the one-year extension is only for Jammu and Kashmir.

The proceedings of the commission, which has five MPs from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir as ex-officio members, have been boycotted by the National Conference (NC) that has three representatives in the panel.

Before Parliament passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act in August 2019, the effective strength of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly was 87, including four seats from Ladakh, which is now a separate Union Territory without a legislature. The strength of the realigned Jammu and Kashmir Assembly is 107 now with 24 seats to continue to remain vacant as those fall in Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK).

The NC members, while disassociating themselves with the Delimitation Commission, had said the party has challenged the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act in the Supreme Court and the matter is pending.

In a letter to the chairperson of the commission, the NC MPs, including former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and veteran politician Farooq Abdullah, had said, “In our view, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is palpably unconstitutional and has been enacted in disregard and violation of the mandate and the spirit of the Constitution of India and therefore, not to be acted upon.”

“We have thrown a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 exercise of powers whereunder the meeting in question is proposed to be held,” the letter, also signed by two other MPs — Hasnain Masoodi and Muhammad Akbar Lone — had said.

According to section 60 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, “…The number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114….”

With 24 seats in PaK, the effective strength will go up from 83 to 90.
The elections to the Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be held only after the process of delimitation is completed