Commission extends invitation to political parties for meetings in Jammu, Srinagar

Panel to visit Pahalgam, Kishtwar; meet DCs

Groups/Orgns desirous of meeting can approach DEOs

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, July 2: The Delimitation Commission during its four days first tour to Jammu and Kashmir will also visit Pahalgam in Anantnag district of South Kashmir and Kishtwar district of Jammu for inter-action with the District Election Officers (Deputy Commissioners) and political parties/groups/organizations who desire to meet it.
The Commission headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai and comprising Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sushil Chandra and State Election Commissioner, J&K, KK Sharma is on first visit since its constitution to Jammu and Kashmir for four days beginning July 6.
The Delimitation Commission will also meet national as well as regional recognised political parties, official sources told the Excelsior but said it will also meet other political parties, groups and organizations who request meeting through the Deputy Commissioners by July 4.
An official from the Chief Electoral Officer’s office has already extended invitation to the political parties for the meetings, which will be held on July 6 at Srinagar and in Jammu on July 8 from 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm.
The officer has sent invitation to president/general secretary of the parties and sought number of the political leaders who will like to meet the Commission.
Meanwhile, the tour programme of the Delimitation Commission released by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Jammu and Kashmir revealed that the Commission will meet four Deputy Commissioners of Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama and Shopian at Pahalgam on July 7 from 12 noon to 1.30 pm.
On the same day, it will interact with six other Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir including Srinagar, Ganderbal, Budgam, Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara in Srinagar from 4 pm to 5.30 pm.
On July 8, the Commission will visit Kishtwar district of Jammu region where it will meet three Deputy Commissioners of Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts.
On July 9, the Delimitation Commission members will have sitting with seven District Election Officers of Jammu region including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi, Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu from 9.30 am to 10.30 am.
“In case any political party/group/organization desiring to meet the Delimitation Commission approaches the office of District Election Officers, their request shall be forwarded immediately to the two designated officers not later than 12 noon on July 4 so that time slot is allotted to them for the meeting,’’ the Chief Electoral Officer’s communication to the DEOs said.
The officers designated for the purpose are Babu Ram Tandon, Deputy Director Information Jammu and Abdul Rehman, Under Secretary Election Department for Kashmir division.
The Commission will be in Srinagar on July 6 and 7 and in Jammu on July 8 and 9.
Since its constitution on March 5, 2020, this will be the Commission’s first visit to Jammu and Kashmir though it had interacted with Associate Members of the Panel in February this year in New Delhi. A Commission’s official had recently taken data from all 20 Deputy Commissioners of the Union Territory in a virtual meeting.
The Commission’s one-year term which had expired on March 5, 2021 has been further extended till March 5, 2022.
The Commission has its term till March 2022 but there is no bar on the Panel submitting report in advance if it is ready. However, the Commission has to invite claims and objections from the people by putting report in the public domain before final report is issued. Only after delimitation of the Assembly constituencies is finalized that the Government can go for Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Commission has been mandated to delimit the constituencies of the Union Territory in accordance with the provisions of Part V of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002.
While splitting Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories through the Reorganization Act, the Union Home Ministry had increased Assembly seats of Jammu and Kashmir by seven taking total seats to 114-24 of which are reserved for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while election will be held for 90 seats.
Erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir had 111 seats including 24 reserved for PoK while elections were held for 87 seats. With creation of Ladakh as Union Territory, four seats of the region were reduced and the Assembly was left with 83 seats. However, with increase of seven seats, J&K UT will have an Assembly of 90 seats. Two Women MLAs will be nominated to the House, which was the position earlier also.
In the previous Assembly, Kashmir had 46 seats, Jammu 37 and Ladakh four.
Delimitation of the Assembly constituencies was last held in 1994-95 during the President’s Rule when seats of the erstwhile State Assembly were raised from 76 to 87. Jammu region’s seats were increased from 32 to 37, Kashmir’s from 42 to 46 and Ladakh’s two to four. However, the delimitation was freezed in 2002 by the then National Conference Government headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah in lines with the decision taken by then Central Government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Elections to the Legislative Assembly will be held only after delimitation of Assembly constituencies is completed.
The delimitation of Assembly seats has become necessity as it would be treated as new Assembly altogether with reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Scheduled Castes enjoyed reservations in the previous State Assembly also where seven constituencies were reserved for them including Chhamb, Domana, RS Pura, Samba, Hiranagar, Chenani and Ramban, all in Jammu region, while STs had been denied political reservations.
“The STs will get political reservations for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir,” sources pointed out.
It may be mentioned here that seats reserved for SCs had to be rotated after every two terms but in the erstwhile J&K State Assembly, four elections were held on the same reserved seats without rotating them. The Delimitation Commission could now reserve seats in different areas for the SCs, they said.

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