According to the law governing delimitation exercise in J&K, the associate members would neither have voting rights nor can they sign any decision of the Election Commission India.
“None of the associate members shall have a right to vote or to sign any decision of the Commission,” reads sub-section (4) of section 5 of Delimitation Commission Act-2002,” law reads.
It says the role of associate members is limited to assisting the poll-body in delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir.
The delimitation exercise would encompass fixing boundaries of 90 and five parliamentary segments and reserving seats for Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes.
Notably, The Re-organization Act enacted by the Central government paved way for the first delimitation exercise in J&K after abolishing its statehood. Before August 5, 2019, the delimitation of Assembly was not possible in Jammu and Kashmir till first census after 2026- that is at least not before 2031- due to amendments carried out in J&K Constitution and J&K Representation Act-1957 under which delimitation exercises were carried in the erstwhile state of J&K in 1975 and 1995.
In the erstwhile Legislative Assembly, Kashmir region had 46 seats, Jammu 37 and Ladakh four seats.
Five Lok Sabha MPs from J&K including Dr Farooq Abdullah, Justice Hasnain Masoodi, Muhammad Akbar Lone were nominated by Speaker Om Birla as associate members of the delimitation commission which was constituted on March 6.
The de-limitation commission is headed by former Supreme Court Judge, Justice Ranjana Desai, Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Chief Electoral Officer Hirdesh Kumar are members of the panel.
The oldest party of J&K- National Conference has said that becoming a part of delimitation process would have been against the basic stand of the party.
Speaking to KNS, Justice Hasnain Masoodi said that the delimitation commission is a product of the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019, which the NC is challenging in and outside the Hon’ble SC. “Participating in this delimitation commission will be tantamount to accepting the events of August 5, 2019, which the NC is unwilling to do,” he said.
He added that role of MPs is advisory only and their recommendations are not mandatory.
“In any case we would not been able to enforce our suggestions in this unconstitutional exercise. It was a kind of trap. If would have become part of it. It was futile,” he said.
On being asked that some political parties have accused NC of playing deceitful politics and allowing BJP upper hand in the delimitation process, Noted Political Commentator and former Vice Chancellor IUST Dr. Siddiq Wahid said, “ I am in agreement with NC boycotting delimitation process . Because we are asking for something that is quite outside that box.”
Taking a dig at National Conference (NC), senior JKAP leader, Ghulam Hassan Mir had said the party’s decision to boycott the Delimitation Commission was a “deceit” with electorate of J&K.
“The party will be solely responsible for harming the interests of J&K if the outcome of the delimitation process was anti-people,” Mir said.
“At a juncture when NC can represent the wishes and aspirations of people of J&K in a delimitation commission, it is very unfortunate they are boycotting the process,” Mir said, adding “as such the party is playing deceit politics with its electorate”.