Seats will be reserved for Scheduled Tribes in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly for the first time, sources in the Delimitation Commission told Republic TV. While 7 seats- Chhamb, Domana, RS Pura, Hiranagar, Chenani, Samba and Ramban were reserved for the Scheduled Castes in the 2014 Assembly election, they are likely to be de-reserved and altogether new seats shall be reserved for the SCs. As per sources, the Delimitation Commission has taken the data of constituencies in the Union Territory that have the maximum population of SCs and STs. At present, the panel is in the process of preparing the first delimitation draft which will be released to the public after a meeting with the 5 Lok Sabha MPs from J&K.
Delimitation in J&K
Referring to the demarcation of boundaries of Parliamentary or Assembly constituencies, the delimitation process is carried out at regular intervals to ensure that each constituency has approximately an equal number of voters. It is usually done when a state is divided which is the case with J&K, which was split into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. Elections have not been held in the state since the dissolution of the state Assembly on November 21, 2018.
As per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of J&K shall be increased from 107 to 114. The delimitation of the constituencies will be determined by the EC in accordance with multiple factors. On February 18, 2020, the Ministry of Legislative Affairs requested Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora to nominate a member to the “proposed” Delimitation Commission for J&K.
Subsequently, the EC mentioned that Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra had been selected as the CEC’s nominee. According to the government notification dated March 6, 2020, retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai and the State Election Commissioner of the concerned state or Union Territory were appointed as the other two members of the Delimitation Commission. On May 26, three JKNC Lok Sabha MPs Farooq Abdullah, Hasnain Masoodi, Akbar Lone and two BJP MPs Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore were nominated by the Ministry of Home Affairs as associate members of the Delimitation Commission to assist the three-member panel.
From July 6-9, the panel visited J&K to interact with political parties, public representatives and administration officials of 20 districts to garner inputs. During the visit, delegations of BSP, BJP, CPI, CPI(M), NC, Congress, J&K Apni Party, J&K People’s Conference and other parties put forth their demands before the Delimitation Commission. However, PDP refused to take part in the proceedings citing that it is a “pre-planned” exercise.