EC to set up Delimitation Comm soon to draw fresh boundaries

Reserved seats to be rotated after 4 elections
Assembly polls all set to be delayed
Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Aug 7: Within days after the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will come into existence with signing of ‘Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill’ 2019 by the President, designation of Governor as the Lieutenant Governor and completion of other legal formalities, the Election Commission of India will be setting up a Delimitation Commission to draw boundaries of 90 Assembly constituencies which the Union Territory has been allocated in the Legislature.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the Delimitation Commission has to be set up by the Election Commission of India to finalize 90 Assembly constituencies in proposed Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory on which the election has to be held and give it time-frame by which it has to complete its task.
“There can be altogether separate Assembly constituencies with different boundaries as it will not be binding on the Delimitation Commission to stick to the segments, which existed in Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly,” sources said, adding since the Commission could take time to draw boundaries and name 90 constituencies, holding elections to the Assembly might take time.
Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill which was approved by the Parliament yesterday gives mandate to the Election Commission to carry out delimitation of the Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, which has been granted the Legislature while Ladakh Union Territory will be without the Legislature.
As per the legislation, the delimitation of Assembly constituencies will be carried out on the basis of 2011 census.
Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory has been allocated 114 Assembly seats, 24 of which are reserved for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and election will be held on 90 seats. In addition, the elected Government will have the powers to nominate two women to the Assembly, like the House that existed in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The State Assembly had 111 seats of which 24 were reserved for PoK and election used to be held on 87 including 46 in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh. With Ladakh now getting separate Union Territory, the number of seats would have gone down to 83 but the Central Government has given 90-seat Assembly to UT of Jammu and Kashmir, an increase of seven seats.
The delimitation of Assembly seats has become necessity as it would be treated as new Assembly altogether with reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Scheduled Castes enjoyed reservations in the State Assembly also where seven constituencies were reserved for them including Chhamb, Domana, RS Pura, Samba, Hiranagar, Chenani and Ramban while STs had been denied political reservations.
“The STs will get political reservations for the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir,” sources pointed out, and said number of seats to be reserved for the STs is yet to be decided.
Worthwhile to mention here that seats reserved for SCs had to be rotated after every two terms but in J&K State Assembly, four elections were held on the same seats without rotating them. The Delimitation Commission could now reserve seats in different areas for the SCs, they said.
Setting up of the Delimitation Commission was a long pending demand of the people of Jammu region as they felt discriminated with just 37 Assembly seats as against 46 of Kashmir. People were now confident that the Delimitation Commission set up by the Election Commission will do justice with Jammu region.
“The Assembly elections for J&K UT were likely to be delayed as the Delimitation could take time to finalize boundaries of 90 seats and by then winter could set-in when hills become snow bound and it becomes difficult to undertake electoral exercise,” sources said.
Earlier, the Election Commission had announced that it would be announcing election schedule for Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly, which has now become defunct with grant of Union Territory status to J&K and Ladakh, after August 15. The Commission proposed to hold the elections in October-November.
Last delimitation of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir was carried out in 1995 in which seats of the State Assembly had gone up from 76 to 87. Jammu region’s seats were increased from 32 to 37, Kashmir’s from 42 to 46 and Ladakh from two to four.
The delimitation was freezed by the State Legislature in 2002 till 2026 at par with the Parliament.