Srinagar: State Secretary CPI(M) Ghulam Nabi Malik has said that the media reports in the recent days that Central government was mulling to hold delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of Assembly elections will have dangerous consequences for the State as the exercise will be in violation of the freeze imposed by J&K State Legislature till 2026.
If the delimitation is necessary, the government must wait for the Assembly to be reconstituted first. Taking such a decision before the elections clearly betrays a mischievous intent and will neither be ethically correct nor legally tenable.
The State Legislature made the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957. The said Act takes into account, amongst others, matters pertaining to delimitation of constituencies. In Section 3 of the said Act, it has been provided that as soon as may be, after the completion of each census, the Governor shall constitute a Commission to be called the Delimitation Commission, consisting of members as mentioned therein.
In 2002 a proviso was added to Section 3 of the said Act, whereby the right of the Governor to constitute Delimitation Commission was postponed until relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published. Immediately prior thereto, by a Constitutional Amendment, a proviso was inserted in sub-section (3) of Section 47 of the Constitution, whereby it was provided that until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to adjust the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State and the Division of the State into territorial constituencies under that sub-section.
By inserting a proviso to sub-section(1) of Section 49 of the Constitution, similarly, the population figure to be taken note of for ascertaining reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes was put on hold until the relevant figures for the first census to be taken after the year 2026 have been published.
Even the Supreme Court on 9 November 2010 upheld the freeze imposed by the state government on delimitation of assembly constituencies in the state till 2026 and dismissed the plea that it violated the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
However, the BJP government is trying to make delimitation as Jammu versus Kashmir issue for electoral gains which is unfortunate. The exercise would be without legal authority and in gross violation of Constitution and law.
As the delimitation is frozen in all the states, there is no reason to single out Jammu and Kashmir for such an exercise. The extra-constitutional measures by the BJP-led government will prove to be disastrous in the long term and political manipulation in a sensitive state like J&K must be avoided at any cost.