Delimitation Commission recommends reservation for Kashmiri migrants, PoJK DPs in LA

The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday finalised the delimitation order and submitted it to the Election Commission of India wherein it has recommended 43 Assembly seats for Jammu division and 47 seats to the Kashmir region.
The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday finalised the delimitation order and submitted it to the Election Commission of India wherein it has recommended 43 Assembly seats for Jammu division and 47 seats to the Kashmir region.Special Arrangement

Jammu: A day ahead of its deadline, Delimitation Commission, entrusted with the task to reconfigure assembly and parliamentary constituencies in J&K, in its much awaited final order notified on Thursday recommended ‘reservation’ for the “Kashmiri migrants and Displaced Persons from POJK” as nominated members in the Legislative Assembly.

Besides it, the Commission did not tweak the rest of its major recommendations, which formed part of its earlier draft proposals.

In case of Kashmiri migrants, the Commission has recommended reservation for at least two members of the community (one of them must be a female) with the power at par with that of “nominated members of the Legislative Assembly of Union Territory of Puducherry.”

However in case of the “Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir”, it has recommended that the central government might consider giving them “some representation in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, by way of nomination” of their representatives.

In its final order also as per draft proposals, 9 Assembly Constituencies (ACs) have been reserved first time for the Scheduled Tribes (STs), out of which 6 are in Jammu region and 3 ACs in the Valley. There are five Parliamentary Constituencies in the region. Following reconfiguration there is an increase of seven seats; six in Jammu and one in Kashmir.

The Commission in its final order also justified “carving of the Anantnag-Rajouri Parliamentary constituency combining Anantnag region in the Valley and Rajouri & Poonch of Jammu region”, which earned it a lot of criticism from all quarters.

It stated that “by this reorganisation, each Parliamentary Constituency will have an equal number of 18 Assembly Constituencies each” in “J&K region which the Commission saw as one single Union Territory.”

Earlier the Delimitation Commission headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, (a retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India) and Sushil Chandra, (Chief Election Commissioner) and K K Sharma, (State Election Commissioner Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir) as ex-officio members of the Delimitation Commission met today to finalise the Delimitation order for the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The Gazette notification for the same has also been published today.

In minor alterations vis-a-vis its draft proposals, in its final order the Commission claimed to have accepted “most of the representations regarding the change of names of the proposed Assembly Constituencies (ACs) in view of the public sentiment involved in the same.”

On this account, it mentioned naming of Tangmarg-Assembly Constituency (AC) as Gulmarg-AC, Zoonimar-AC as Zaidibal-AC, Sonwar-AC as Lal Chowk-AC, Padder-AC as Padder-Nagseni-AC, Kathua North-AC as Jasrota-AC, Kathua South-AC as Kathua-AC, Khour-AC as Chhamb-AC, Mahore-AC as Gulabgarh-AC, Darhal-AC as Budhal-AC etc.

Similarly representations pertaining to shifting of Tehsils from one AC to another and minor changes in the territorial jurisdiction of proposed ACs, which Commission “found logical were accepted.”

In this case, the Commission mentioned shifting of Tehsil Srigufwara from Pahalgam-AC to Bijbehara-AC, shifting of Kwarhama and Kunzar Tehsils to Gulmarg-AC and redrawing Wagoora-Kreeri-AC having Kareeri and Khoie tehsils and part of Wagoora and Tangmarg tehsils, shifting of Darhal Tehsil from Budhal-AC to Thannamandi-AC.

“These requests were thoroughly analysed in the Commission and a few of them, which were logical, have been incorporated in the final order,” the Commission has stated.

As per the final Delimitation Order, the reconfiguration will come into effect from the date to be notified by the central government. As per reconfigured electoral map, out of the 90 Assembly Constituencies in J&K, 43 will be part of Jammu region and 47 for Kashmir region in view of the provisions of Section 9(1)(a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Section 60(2)(b) of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.

“After consultation with Associate Members, representatives of political parties, citizens, civil society groups, 9ACs have been reserved for STs, out of which 6 are in Jammu region and 3 ACs in the Valley. There are five Parliamentary Constituencies in the region. The Delimitation Commission has seen the Jammu & Kashmir region as one single Union Territory. Therefore, one of the Parliamentary Constituencies has been carved out combining Anantnag region in the Valley and Rajouri & Poonch of Jammu region. By this reorganisation each Parliamentary Constituency will have an equal number of 18 Assembly Constituencies each. Names of some ACs have also been changed keeping in view the demand of local representatives,” read the statement issued by the Commission in New Delhi after its final order was notified.

The Delimitation Commission was constituted by the Government of India, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 of Delimitation Act, 2002 (33 of 2002), for the purpose of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The Commission associated in its work, five members of Lok Sabha elected from the UT of Jammu and Kashmir. These Associate Members viz., Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mohd Akbar Lone, Justice (retired) Hasnain Masoodi (all from National Conference), Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma (both from BJP) were nominated by the Speaker of Lok Sabha.

The Delimitation Commission was entrusted with the work of delimiting the Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of 2011 Census and in accordance with the provisions of Part-V of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019) and the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002(33 of 2002).

“Having regard to relevant provisions of the Constitution (Article 330 and Article 332) and sub-sections (6) and (7) of Section 14 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019, the number of seats to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir was worked out on the basis of 2011 Census. Accordingly, the Delimitation Commission has reserved nine ACs for STs for the first time and 7 for SCs. It is worthwhile to mention that the Constitution of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State did not provide for reservation of seats for the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly,” the official statement mentioned.

It stated that the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002 laid down the broad parameters within which the delimitation exercise was to be carried out. However, the Commission formulated guidelines and methodology for delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, for smooth functioning and effective results, and the same were followed during the delimitation process, it added.

“Keeping in view the geographical features, means of communication, public convenience, contiguity of areas as various factors enumerated in Section 9(1) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and the inputs gathered during the Commission’s visit to the UT from July 6 to 9, 2021, the Commission categorised all 20 districts into three broad categories i.e. A- Districts having predominantly hilly and difficult areas, B- Districts with Hill & Flat areas and C- Districts with predominantly Flat areas, giving margin of +/- 10 percent of the average population per Assembly Constituency, while proposing allocation of the constituencies to the districts,” the Commission said in its official statement.

“The Commission has also, for some districts, proposed carving out 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,” it said.

The official statement mentioned that the Commission had decided that constituencies would be delimited having regard to the administrative units i.e., Districts, Tehsils, Patwar Circles, etc. as in existence on June 15, 2020 and the Commission had communicated to the UT administration, not to disturb the administrative units as existing as on June 15, 2020 till the completion of the delimitation exercise in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It was ensured by the Commission that every Assembly Constituency shall be contained entirely in one district and the lowest administrative units i.e. Patwar Circles (and Wards in Jammu Municipal Corporation) were not broken and were kept in a single Assembly Constituency,” the official statement said.

It maintained that the Commission took “extreme care in identifying the seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly and to locate seats to be reserved for these communities, as far as practicable, in areas where the proportion of their population to the total population is the largest, by working out the percentage of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes population in each Assembly Constituency and identifying the requisite number of reserved constituencies by arranging them in descending order.”

The public sittings were organised in the Capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar on April 4 and 5, 2022 respectively, which provided an opportunity to the people, public representatives, political leaders and other stakeholders to express their views. “All those who filed objections and suggestions in response to the public notice were specifically heard. All the suggestions of the public, given in writing or orally during the public sittings and representations from various stakeholders were tabulated by the Secretariat of the Commission,” official statement mentioned.

The Commission conducted a final round of internal meetings to examine all the suggestions and took decisions on the changes to be made in the draft proposals.

Official statement mentioned that the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir had been a challenging task. The Commission visited UT of Jammu and Kashmir twice. “During the first visit, the Commission interacted with approximately 242 delegations at four locations, i.e. Srinagar, Pahalgam, Kishtwar and Jammu. Approximately 1600 people attended and expressed their views at the Public sittings held at Jammu and Srinagar on April 4 and 5, 2022 respectively, during the second visit of the Commission to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir,” it stated.

“The peculiar geo-cultural landscape of the Union Territory presented unique issues arising due to factors like competing political aspirations of the geographically and culturally distinctive Jammu and the Kashmir regions; vast differences in population density between districts ranging from 3436/ sq. km in districts in the valley-plains on one side, to 29/sq. km in the predominantly hilly and difficult districts on the other; existence of sub-regions within certain districts having extremely difficult intra-district connectivity due to extraordinary geographical barriers with some remaining totally cut off on account of the snow blocking the mountain passes for months during winter; uncertainty of life and inadequate availability of connectivity and public conveniences in villages along the International Border prone to unprovoked intermittent firing/shelling in the border districts, etc,” the Commission mentioned in its official statement.

It added that the competing claims to equitable exercise of democratic rights by populations living in inequitable conditions, besides other aspects, were well articulated on behalf of all the diverse areas of the UT by representatives of political parties, social organisations and individuals, as well as the media which provided profound insights before the Commission and contributed in upholding the democratic values cherished by the people of this largest democracy in the world, in providing of a fair and robust framework by carving out appropriate constituencies for exercise of their right to franchise by the members of the electorate living in mutually diverse circumstances, in an equitably convenient manner.

“After incorporating all such changes, the Final Order has been published in the Official Gazette of the Government of India as well as the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The Final Order is also published in Print and Electronic media and also hosted on the website of the Commission and CEO Jammu and Kashmir,” it added.

While recommending reservation for Kashmiri migrants and “DPs from PoJK”, the Commission in its official statement mentioned that during the public hearing, it (Commission) received a number of representations from the Kashmiri migrants and the displaced persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

“The delegations of Kashmiri migrants represented before the Commission said that they were persecuted and forced to live in exile as refugees in their own country for the last three decades. It was urged that in order to preserve their political rights, seats may be reserved for them in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Parliament. The Displaced persons from PoJK also requested the Commission to reserve a few seats for them in theJ&K Legislative Assembly. Accordingly, the Delimitation Commission also made recommendations to the central government,” it stated.

“Provision of at least two members (one of them must be a female) from the community of Kashmiri Migrants in the Legislative Assembly and such members may be given power at par with the power of nominated members, of the Legislative Assembly of Union Territory of Puducherry. The central government may consider giving the Displaced Persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir some representation in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, by way of nomination of representatives of the Displaced Persons from Pakistan Occupied Jammu and Kashmir,” the Commission recommended in its Final Order.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir was carved out from the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir through the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 (34 of 2019), passed by the Parliament. The delimitation of Assembly Constituencies in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir was governed by the Constitution of the State of Jammu and Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of People Act 1957. The Assembly seats in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir were last delimited in 1995 based on the 1981 Census.

As per the Final Order of the Commission, in Kashmir region, now district Kupwara will have six ACs i.e., Karnah, Trehgam, Kupwara, Lolab, Handwara and Langate.

District Baramulla will have seven ACs i.e.,., Sopore, Rafiabad, Uri, Baramulla, Gulmarg, Wagoora-Kreeri and Pattan.

District Bandipora will have three ACs i.e., Sonawari, Bandipora and Gurez (ST).

District Ganderbal will have two ACs i.e., Kangan (ST) and Ganderbal.

District Srinagar will have eight ACs i.e., Hazratbal, Khanyar, Habbakadal, Lal Chowk, Chanapora, Zadibal, Eidgah and Central Shalteng.

District Budgam will have five ACs i.e., Budgam, Beerwah, Khansahib, Charar-i-Sharief and Chadoora.

District Pulwama will have four ACs i.e., Pampore, Tral, Pulwama and Rajpora.

District Shopian will have two ACs i.e., Zainapora and Shopian. District Kulgam will have three ACs i.e., D H Pora, Kulgam and Devsar.

Anantnag district will have seven ACs i.e., Dooru, Kokernag (ST), Anantnag West, Anantnag, Srigufwara-Bijbehara, Shangus-Anantnag East and Pahalgam.

In Jammu region, KIshtwar district will have three ACs i.e., Inderwal, Kishtwar and Padder-Nagseni; Doda district will also have three ACs i.e., Bhaderwah, Doda and Doda West.

Ramban district will have two Acsi.e., Ramban and Banihal while Reasi district will have three ACs i.e., Gulabgarh (ST), Reasi and Shri Mata Vaishno Devi.

Udhampur district will have four ACs i.e., Udhampur West, Udhampur East, Chenani and Ramnagar (SC). District Kathua will have six ACs i.e., Bani, Billawar, Basohli, Jasrota, Kathua (SC) and Hiranagar. Samba district will have three ACs i.e., Ramgarh (SC), Samba and Vijaypur.

Jammu district will have eleven ACs i.e., Bishnah (SC), Suchetgarh (SC), R S Pura-Jammu South, Bahu, Jammu East, Nagrota, Jammu West, Jammu North, Marh (SC), Akhnoor (SC) and Chhamb.

Rajouri district will have five ACs i.e., Kalakote-Sunderbani, Nowshera, Rajouri (ST), Budhal (ST) and Thannamandi (ST) while Poonch district will have three ACs i.e., Surankote (ST), Poonch Haveli and Mendhar (ST).

Five Parliamentary Constituencies will be Baramulla, Srinagar, Anantnag-Rajouri, Udhampur and Jammu.

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