Among many other commitments made by Congress, PDP government during their coalition tenure in their Common Minimum Programme (CMP) during 2008 elections and during 2015 the BJP and PDP have also agreed to form the proposed delimitation commission in their “Agenda for Alliance” and there is every likelihood that the same may become yet another victim of the mutual bickering between the two parties. Experts go to the extent of saying that the valley centric political parties apprehend increase of Assembly seats in Jammu division to do away with the discrimination factor may be jeopardized their hegemony in the highest constitutional seat of power. The biggest tragedy with the Jammu based parties and the leaders have been that they have miserably failed in bringing around their Valley based colleagues, so far as it concerns the interest of Jammu Division. Again when BJP and PDP have commited to work out one time settlement for refugees from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir of 1947, 1965 and 1971, only time will tell when it will materialize.
After every census, the Union President, as per the provisions of the People’s Representation Act (PRA), constitutes delimitation commission. As of now this exercise stands completed in the entire country except Jammu and Kashmir in the light of Article 370 of Indian Constitution. It is pertinent to mention that the delimitation does not mean the increase of Assembly or Parliamentary seats; it also means readjustment or reorganisation of the areas, rotation of the reserved seats for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and other weaker section of the society as enshrined in the Constitution. No doubt, the Constitutional amendments passed during NDA regime, bans any increase of Assembly or Parliament seats till 2026, but there is no ban on the reorganisation and rotation of reserved seats. Moreover, as per Constitutional provisions, it is mandatory to constitute Delimitation commission after change of every century, this time in 2000. Here in the state, Article 47(4) of J&K People’s Representative Act 1957, says that the Governor is the authority to constitute Delimitation after every census. But the Constitutional provisions are not being invoked possibly in view of the Central Amendment banning increase or decrease in the number of existing Assembly of Parliamentary constituencies. Another impediment is the 29th Amendment in the state constitution. This amendment of 2002, while endorsing the Central Amendment not to increase or decrease the Constituencies till 2026, has gone ahead to the extent that the Delimitation Commission shall be formed after 2026 census, which is a total conflict with the Constitution of India as also the People’s Representation Act. As per 29th amendment, as it stands now, there will be no Delimitation of seats till Census 2031 and the Delimitation Commission may be constituted by or before general elections in 2038. This will also ban rotation of reserved seats till 2038, denying the benefit to the next largest SC/ST populated constituency.
The Delimitation of the Assembly seats has become more necessary with the creation of 8 new Districts because some areas of one constituency or falling under the administrative jurisdictions of two Districts. For example:
- Chatroo and Thakrai of Inderwal constituency fall in Kishtwar District whereas Gandoh and Thatri Tehsils of same constituency remain with the Doda District.
- Gool Tehsil of Gool-Arnas constituency falls under the jurisdiction of the newly created Ramban District, but Arnas Niabat falls under Reasi District.
- Ramgarh and Vijaypur Niabat of Vijaypur Constituency fall under Samba District, whereas Bari Brahmana Niabat and parts Ratnu Chak continue to be with the Jammu District.
- In Samba constituency, areas like Sidhra, Bain-Bajalta and entire Purmandal block continue falling under Jammu District.
- Parts of Hiranagar segment in Kathua District viz. Ghagwal Niabat/ Block have now been attached with Samba District.
- In Kashmir Valley also, similar situation prevails in several Assembly segments. For instance, Devsar Assembly segment has been divided in Anantnag and Kulgam Districts.
This sort of situation exists in many Assembly segments across the state that is bound to hamper the developmental and other social welfare activities. The 29th amendment of State Constituion made by the state government further needs amendment so far as it is in direct conflict with the Indian Constitution. If the state government is really sincere in conducting fair and free polls, giving due representation to all the far flung, hilly and inaccessible areas, it will have to constitute Delimitation Commission, withstanding its internal limitations failing which it will jeopardize the whole exercise of democratic process of elections and ultimately tantamount to repetition of polls malpractices that have already landed the state in the present situation of chaos, confusion, death and destruction.
The glaring instances of unjustified already delimited constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir are depicted as under:-
|Jammu Province||Kashmir Province|
|Gandhi Nagar-1,48,773||Nobra 11,713|
|Jammu (west)- 1,41,837||Gurez 15,676|
|Kathua – 1,09,651||Zanskar 20,138|
|Udhampur – 1,04,708||Karnah 27,672|
|Rajouri – 1,03,672||Habba Kadal 50,780|
|Ramnagar – 1,00,001||Khanyar 52159|
|Hiranagar – 99,118||Id-Gah 56,490|
|Vijaypur – 96,753||Sangrama 59243|
|Reasi – 96,720||Kangan 58662|
|Poonch – 95,475||Dooru 64,466|
- Total area (in sq. Kms)
Jammu province-26,293 Kashmir-15,948
- Total Voters
Jammu Province-3091193 Kashmir-2986670
- Total No. Of Assembly Constituencies