No response to NC’s reservation from Delimitation Commission: Justice Hasnain

No response to NC’s reservation from Delimitation Commission: Justice Hasnain
File Photo of National Conference Member of Parliament Hasnain Masoodi

Jammu: National Conference (NC) has yet to take a call vis-a-vis its participation in the Delimitation Commission meeting, as and when it is called, to share and deliberate its draft report with its five Associate members.

“See, we have not received any written communication. Not even verbally we’ve been intimated so far about any such development or meeting to be scheduled or already lined up. In any case, NC leadership will take a final call on it. As far as the initial meeting was concerned, we abstained. You would be aware that we had raised an issue of constitutionality of this entire exercise being undertaken. Ironically, the Commission has not responded to our reservation so far. Our line of reasoning was that this Commission was created under “The Reorganisation Act” and this Act has already been under challenge in the Supreme Court of India. Its constitutional validity was challenged,” asserts NC MP and one of the five Associate members of Commission Justice Hasnain Masoodi.

The Commission's two Associate members are from BJP i-.e., the Union Minister of State in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma, both MPs. They’ve remained on board throughout the entire exercise, since the constitution of the Commission. However three other Associate members of Commission viz., NC MPs Dr Farooq Abdullah, Mohammed Akbar Lone and Dr Masoodi have, so far, stayed away from its entire exercise.

“Reason is - we believe that such an exercise cannot be undertaken under a law that is “constitutionally a suspect law.” Because we have to appreciate that the Supreme Court did not only entertain our petition (and other petitions) but referred it to the constitution bench. That by itself indicates that the Supreme Court, on the face of it, on the first look, finds some kind of merit in our petition and the grounds on which it is based. That is how it has been referred to the constitution bench. So we've taken an initial stand that this entire exercise (Delimitation) is not in tune with the constitution,” Justice Hasnain explained the rationale behind staying away from the entire exercise.

He pointed out that when this Commission visited Srinagar, the National Conference also submitted a written memo or stance in writing reiterating that it (NC) had stated earlier. “But we’ve not received any kind of communication till date regarding the casual meetings or meetings scheduled in this connection, if ever. Similarly we have not received any information about the meeting they desire to have with the Associate members, as is being reported or being referred to,” NC MP said.

He was responding to the reports that the Commission was all set to share its draft report with the Associate members. Justice Hasnain stated, “See that’s part of the game (exercise)...means the Associate members are to be associated (kept in loop) at every step in the exercise. That is why they are referred to as Associate members. But we have not received any kind of communication till now as I speak to you...not even any verbal communication...so how can I respond. So far, we’ve not been part of this exercise...they (Commission) have not shared anything with us.”

After initial reservations, NC shed its hard stance and tried to open communication through its written representation to the Commission, referring to it, Justice Masoodi pointed out, “Yes, that’s what I said. We conveyed rather reiterated our stand in our written communication to the Commission after we had received the invitation (during the Commission's visit to Srinagar in July this year). But they did not respond to our objections, to any of our points raised in the communication. We did not get any reply. This is the position....accordingly... the disagreement with what we had projected...we did not receive any response which could give an impression that our objections had been dealt with.”

Will the National Conference respond positively to the invite from the Delimitation Commission for any meeting scheduled in the days to come for deliberating the draft report?

Justice Hasnain’s response to this query was, “I’m sorry..I’m not in a position to respond to their invite for any meeting, as and when it is scheduled by them. Reason being, a decision in that connection will be taken by our party, by our leadership. However as the developments unfold the party and the leadership are expected to meet to decide the future course of action.”

When asked to comment on the inputs that the Commission had referred certain territorial disputes, emerged due to chaotic creation of eight districts and later administrative units during the regimes of Ghulam Nabi Azad and Omar Abdullah respectively, to the Survey of India, NC MP responded saying that for his party, they were just reports because they did not come through the Commission.

“I’ve also gone through these reports. But these remain for us only reports. They have not shared any information on this account... The Commission has not shared that these are the apprehensions we have or these are the impressions we get...this is the tentative conclusion, we arrive at or ...nothing of the sort. They have not shared – what inputs are or what information is or what representations they have received..Not at all,” he added.

Justice Hasnain agreed with the contention that in spite of their status as Associate members of the Commission, they were in touch with it only through newspaper reports. “Yes, that’s true. Otherwise we’ve no communication (with the Commission). Only we know is that initially we had received an invitation. We did respond to that by voicing our reservations. Still they went ahead with their planned schedule. We again made a written representation or memo containing our view point in writing..but we’ve not received any kind of communication from their side. You know, we are as aware about things (about the Commission) as you are,” he added.

The Delimitation Commission chaired by Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai was constituted on March 6, 2020. Its other two members are the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and State Election Commissioner K K Sharma. The Commission had visited J&K this year in July.

Earlier this month, the Commission had sought suggestions on 290 memorandums or queries received from different political parties and stakeholders. These were referred to the District Electoral Officers by the State Election Commission for reply. Officials stated that the Commission had almost completed its draft report to be submitted to the government and put in public domain.

In that connection, it wanted to hold deliberations with its five Associate members.

During this visit in July, Justice Desai, in a media interaction, had maintained that the entire exercise would be “transparent by the letter of the law and nobody should have any fears.”

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