Serving/Retd SC judge to head 3-member Delimitation Comm

EC nominates Chandra as its Rep
*Third member to be from J&K UT

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Feb 17: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today initiated the process for setting up of Delimitation Commission in Jammu and Kashmir which will demarcate boundaries of 90 Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory before holding of elections.
“The 3-member Commission will be headed by sitting/retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India and his name will be announced in the next couple of days while Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sunil Arora today nominated Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioner as its representative to the Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir,” official sources told the Excelsior.
Third member of the Commission will be nominated by the Union Territory Government of Jammu and Kashmir, they said.
They added that the CEC had been approached by the MHA to nominate its representative to the Delimitation Commission. Accordingly, Arora today sent the name of Sushil Chandra as its nominee to serve in the Commission.
“The Commission will be formally constituted once the names of sitting/retired Supreme Court Judge and representative of the J&K Government are received by the MHA,” according to sources.
Terms of reference and tenure of the Commission will be decided by the Union Home Ministry once it is formally constituted with names of all three members.
Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held after fresh delimitation of the Assembly constituencies as the Union Territory has been granted 90 seats Assembly in the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, an increase of seven seats.
J&K had 87-seat Legislative Assembly but after Ladakh was made a separate Union Territory without Legislature, its four Assembly seats were reduced from J&K House, leaving 83 seats Assembly for the UT. However, in Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act which was passed by the Parliament on August 6, 2019 J&K UT was granted 90-seats Legislative Assembly but the Legislative Council was dissolved.
Twenty four seats remained reserved for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in the J&K Assembly, whose total strength now will be 114 as against previous 107.
However, strength of Lok Sabha seats of J&K has come down from six to five-three in Kashmir division and two in Jammu while Ladakh Union Territory has been granted one Lok Sabha seat. All four Rajya Sabha seats in the erstwhile State of J&K will be retained by the Union Territory.
Setting up of Delimitation Commission in Jammu and Kashmir was long pending demand of the BJP and various organizations in Jammu region which were of the view that “political discrimination” with Jammu region can’t be undone till it was granted Assembly seats at par with Kashmir division.
In the dissolved Assembly, Kashmir had 46 Assembly seats, Jammu 37 and Ladakh 4, a gap of nine seats between Kashmir and Jammu divisions.
The National Conference Government headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah had in 2002 freezed fresh delimitation of Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir till 2026 on the lines of Parliament.
Sources said conduct of Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will depend on tenure of the Delimitation Commission fixed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“The Assembly elections in J&K will be held only after completion of delimitation of the Assembly seats,” sources said.