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Delhi Summons All Delimitation Related Files From J&K’s Law Department: Sources

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Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir’s law and parliamentary affairs department has been asked by the concerned quarters in New Delhi to provide all files related to delimitation, sources said.
They said a communication has been received, wherein the law and parliamentary affairs department has been specifically asked to provide the details pertaining to delimitation. The development comes almost ten days after Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, claimed that there was no proposal under its consideration for a delimitation exercise in the state. The MHA’s clarification had come amid reports that Home Minister Amit Shah has set up a commission to redraw the scope and size of the assembly segments and determine the number of seats to be reserved for Schedules Castes.
Taking Jammu and Kashmir on par with the rest of the states in India, the then Farooq Abdullah government had in 2002 amended the state constitution which froze delimitation commission till 2026.
On November 9, 2010, the Supreme Court upheld the freeze imposed by J&K government as it dismissed a plea that it violated the “basic structure” of the Constitution.
Rejecting J&K Panther’s Party chief Bhim Singh’s argument that it deprived Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes the right to represent the Valley, the apex court in a judgment had said that courts cannot interfere in matters of delimitation as there was an express Constitutional bar on such interference.
By an amendment to Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act 1957 and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of J&K made in 2002, the state decided to freeze the delimitation exercise till 2026. The last census operation in the state was completed in 2001 but the delimitation was done in 1995.
The state High Court had upheld the validity of the amendment, following which the party appealed in the apex court.
The main plea of the petitioner was that the freeze would result in strong imbalances without the demographical changes being properly reflected and the essence of democracy will be defeated.
Singh said that of the 37 constituencies in Jammu, some are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes whereas of the 46 constituencies in Kashmir Valley, not a single constituency is reserved for SCs and STs.
Dismissing the plea, a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Asok Kumar Ganguly had said “we are of the opinion that a right to caste vote is a valuable right but to demand any uniform value of one’s voting right through the process of delimitation, disregarding the statutory and constitutional dispensation based on historical reasons is not a justiciable right.


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