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J&K delimitation exercise will be fair, transparent, assures Commission

Over the past four days, the Commission members, including State Election Commissioner K K Sharma, have met around 290 groups, apart from senior officials of the UT administration, seeking their inputs and concerns regarding the delimitation.

Written by Arun Sharma | Jammu |
Updated: July 10, 2021 8:14:32 am
J&K delimitation exercise will be fair, transparent, assures CommissionSecurity personnel in Jammu and Kashmir. (PTI Photo: S. Irfan, Representational)

AMID APPREHENSIONS raised by some in Kashmir over the delimitation exercise, the visiting Delimitation Commission on Friday assured that it will act in a fair, transparent and judicious manner. The Commission said that before preparing the final report on carving of the assembly constituencies, it will prepare a draft taking into account the inputs and demands placed by people before it and put the same in public domain for comments.

“The inputs of the associate members of the Commission will also be taken and put in public domain along with the draft for comments from public,” said Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, who forms part of the three-member Delimitation Commission headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai.

Over the past four days, the Commission members, including State Election Commissioner K K Sharma, have met around 290 groups, apart from senior officials of the UT administration, seeking their inputs and concerns regarding the delimitation of constituencies.

“Opportunity will be given to the public at large who lodge their objection again on the draft and only then things will be finalised,’’ Chandra told reporters here.

Pointing out that the purpose of the Commission’s visit is to take views of all stake holders, he said they met UT Chief Secretary on Friday and directed him to nominate a nodal officer of the rank of Additional Deputy Commissioner to receive representations from public and forward them to the Commission. He said people can send their representations to the Commission directly as well. “The Commission will definitely examine all the suggestions,” he added.

When asked about PDP not meeting them and the apprehensions among political parties in Kashmir about the exercise being pre-planned, Chandra said, “We all have come with an open mind to listen to the concerns of everyone. We welcome all those who have given their views. We expect everyone comes and gives their views.”

Dispelling apprehensions among people in Kashmir, Justice (Retired) Desai said, “I assure you that the exercise is going to be transparent and by the letter of the law. And that is why we have come here to listen to the people, otherwise we would not have come, staying for two-three days and talking to so many people.”

About PDP leaders not meeting them, she said the Commission can only interact with those who want to participate in the process. “What we can say about those who do not wish to participate. We wish all to come.”

Pointing out that the delimitation process has gathered pace, the Chief Election Commissioner said it will be completed in a “fair, transparent and judicious manner’’.

He said the first delimitation exercise, carving out 25 assembly constituencies in the then state, was carried out by a Delimitation Committee in 1951. The first full-fledged Delimitation Commission was formed in 1981 and it submitted its recommendations in 1995 on the basis of 1981 Census. Since then, there has been no delimitation, he added.

In 2020, the Delimitation Commission was constituted to carry out the exercise on the basis of 2011 Census, Chandra said, adding that that “we have been mandated to add seven more seats to the Union Territory’’, raising the total number of seats in Jammu and Kashmir to 90 from the previous 83. This is apart from 24 seats which have been reserved for areas of PoK and have to be kept vacant in the Assembly.

“For us, Jammu and Kashmir is one UT. We do not bifurcate how many [seats] will go to Jammu and how many to Kashmir. We will adopt a uniform creteria,’’ he said, replying to a question on general concern in Jammu that it had been discriminated in respect to carving out of assembly constituencies in the past.

While 2011 Census will continue to remain the main factor in the delimitation exercise, the Commission will also consider geographical compactness, public conveniences, accessibility, communication facilities and topography of various areas, Chandra said.

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