The Supreme Court yesterday postponed the hearing of the petition challenging the delimitation exercise carried out for redrawing the Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir to 29 November after hearing the submission of the Solicitor general of India Tushar Mehta who requested some time to file additional documents in the matter, reported a news agency.
According to the report, a bench of Justices S K Kaul and A S Oka ordered that the additional documents be filed within a week’s time and posted the plea on 29 November. The court further ordered the petitioner to file a brief synopsis of five (5) pages limited to the issues pertaining to the petition.
The court made it clear that it will not hear constitutional challenges relating to the abrogation of Article 370 in the present petition and any arguments regarding that will be heard by the Constitutional bench.
Mehta submitted before the court that he had a word with the secretary concerned who had dealt with the matter and came to the conclusion that a few additional documents needed to be submitted before the court and therefore needed some time, reads the report.
In the last hearing, the bench had observed that the petitioners, two residents of Kashmir, had not challenged the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and therefore any submissions concerning that would not be allowed. It had noted that the challenge in this plea was limited to the exercise undertaken in respect of the delimitation pursuant to the notifications, including those of 6 March 2020 and 3 March 2021. The top court then asked the respondents to file their counter within a period of six (6) weeks.
The counsel appearing for the petitioners had submitted before the court in the last hearing that the challenge was with respect to the alteration of boundaries and inclusion of extended areas which could not have been done and was against the very scheme of the Constitution.
The plea prays to declare that the increase in the number of seats from 107 to 114 (including 24 seats in PoK) in Jammu and Kashmir is ultra vires the constitutional provisions such as Articles 81, 82, 170, 330 and 332 and the statutory provisions, particularly under section 63 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
As per the report, the plea also submits that the last Delimitation Commission that was set up in July 2002 had issued guidelines and methodology for the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies which clearly stated that the total number of existing seats in the Legislative Assemblies of all states, as fixed based on the 1971 census shall remain unaltered till the first census to be taken after the year 2026.
The plea, therefore, challenges the notification dated 6 March 2020 which essentially constituted the delimitation commission in the J-K and states of Assam, Arunachal pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. The plea also further challenges the omission of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland from the process of delimitation vide notification dated 3 March 2021, reads the report.