The Jammu and Kashmir delimitation commission is expected to submit the final draft for the assembly and Lok Sabha constituency changes to pave the way for elections in the newly-formed union territory. The panel was tasked to redraw the boundaries of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir.
It would make the delimitation ‘award’ public detailing the number of constituencies and their size by sending a gazette notification once the report is submitted to the government. The decision is crucial as only after the delimitation exercise is over will the much-awaited polls take place in Jammu and Kashmir.
The panel, formed by the Centre in March 2020, is headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai and comprises chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra and deputy election commissioner Chander Bhushan Kumar, state election commissioner (SEC) KK Sharma and chief electoral officer Hridesh Kumar as its ex-officio members. It was granted a year’s extension and then another extension of two months in February this year to complete its task for the term that was to otherwise end on March 6.
On Monday, the commission met various delegations in Jammu before leaving for Srinagar to meet the stakeholders there to submit its report. It met over 200 delegations and members of the civil society from Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch, Kishtwar, Kathua and Doda districts and heard them and received their representations.
Since the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh in August 2019, the commission has proposed increasing the number of seats in the union territory from 83 to 90. Besides, 24 seats in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) remain vacant. Further, nine seats have been proposed for scheduled tribes (STs) for the first time.
The panel has also proposed six additional seats for Jammu and one for Kashmir. As of now, the Kashmir division has 46 seats and the Jammu division 37.
The last delimitation panel took seven years to give its award in 1995, while this commission took a little over two years to complete its task despite the coronavirus pandemic, a functionary pointed out.