The Jammu and Kashmir delimitation commission has called a meeting with its associate members on December 20 in New Delhi to share the progress made in the delimitation of the 90 Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory.
The meeting has been called following an uproar by many politicians over the alleged uncertainty created by the Union Home Ministry’s remark in Parliament regarding the deadline for the commission to submit its recommendations.
The commission is headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai and its term ends in March 2022 after which Assembly elections are to be held.
The five associate members of the commission are Minister of State for, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh and Jammu MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, both from the BJP; as well as National Conference (NC) MPs Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi.
This is second meeting called by the commission after the first was held on February 18 which was attended only by the two BJP MPs, while the three NC members stayed away on the ground that the commission had been set up under Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, which the party had challenged in the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the two official members of the commission are Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and state Election Commissioner, K.K. Sharma.
Sources have indicated that the commission may consider giving representation to Kashmiri Pandits in the Assembly since it will be difficult for the community under normal circumstances to send its representative to the Legislative Assambly.
Options under consideration are Sangha Model of Sikkim where a ‘floating’ constituency is reserved for Buddhist Monks or like nomination models seen in the Puducherry Assembly for Anglo Indians.
The Kashmiri Pandit community is spread over different parts of Jammu, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Maharashtra among others after their migration from the Valley in 1990s.
Under the existing provisions of the Constitution, only Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are entitled to 8 and 10 per cent reservation in the Assembly, respectively, which means seven seats will be reserved for SCs and nine for STs out of the 90 proposed after the delimitation process is completed.
In addition to the 90 seats proposed, 24 will continue to remain vacant as they fall in the Pakistan occupied part of Jammu and Kashmir.
The erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Assembly had 87 seats out of which Kashmir division had 46, Jammu division 37 and Ladakh 4.