Supreme Court dismisses plea challenging delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir

Illustration: TCN

On March 6, 2020, the Centre constituted a three-member delimitation commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ranjana Desai to redraw the constitutional boundaries of the UT. 

Afnan Habib | 

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SRINAGAR (JAMMU & KASHMIR) — The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the petition challenging the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Jammu & Kashmir, the LiveLaw reported.

A Bench comprising Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice A.S. Oka passed the order in a plea challenging the delimitation exercise undertaken in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Justice Oka, reading out the operative portion of the judgment, said that the judgment has clarified that the dismissal of the petition should not be construed as giving imprimatur to the decisions taken in relation to Article 370 as the said issue is pending before a Constitution Bench.

Senior Advocate, Ravi Shankar Jandhyala, representing the petitioners had contended that the delimitation exercise violated the scheme of the Constitution of India, especially Article 170(3), which had frozen delimitation till the first census after 2026. He had argued that the delimitation exercise was being carried out in the teeth of constitutional and statutory provisions. He had further submitted that after the delimitation order was passed in the year 2008, no further delimitation exercise could have been undertaken. The Senior Counsel had emphasised that post-2008, all delimitation-related exercises can be carried out only by the Election Commission and not a Delimitation Commission.

On March 6, 2020, the Centre constituted a three-member delimitation commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ranjana Desai. Its two other members were Chief Election Commissioner and J&K’s State Election Commissioner.

The commission was entrusted with the work of delimiting the Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir based on the 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).

The Commission unveiled its final order on May 5, 2022, and allocated six additional seats to Jammu and one to Kashmir. It also reserved nine seats for scheduled tribes—six in Jammu region and three in Kashmir.

The Commission’s recommendations sparked a row in Kashmir with political parties in the region saying it will disempower the erstwhile state with the political observers noting that the recommendations will create ‘electoral autocracy’ in the region, reported in May 2022.

Afnan Habib is a freelance journalist based in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir. He tweets @afnanhabib