Rashid Paul

HC dismisses petition seeking reservation of one parliamentary seat for SC, STs each in J&K

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Srinagar: The High Court has dismissed a petition seeking direction to Government of India to reserve one parliamentary seat for the scheduled tribes and scheduled castes (SC &ST) each in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

The petition was filed by Chaman Lal Kanathia and others claiming to be the members of SC and ST categories.

The petitioners sought a direction to the Government of India to reserve one parliamentary seat in the Lok Sabha in the former State of Jammu and Kashmir for the SCs and STs each under Article 330 (1) & (2) read with Article 341 & 342 of the Constitution of India.

They also prayed for an order restraining the respondents from conducting parliamentary elections in near future.

Vishal Sharma, the Assistant Solicitor General of India (ASGI) relying on the counter-affidavit filed by respondents on behalf of Election Commission of India, said the matter already stands disposed of by a Division Bench of this court vide its judgment in 2000.

He submitted that the present writ petition is filed on a wrong premise and without proper understanding of the different provisions of the Constitution of India.

He also said that the existing Articles on the matter as they stand after 42nd Amendment peremptorily provide that no further delimitation of the existing parliamentary and assembly constituencies in any state which were last determined on the basis of 1971 Census shall be made by any authority, until the relevant population figures for the first census taken after 2000 have been published.

He said “Articles 330 and 332 also provided that the reservation for seats for the SC and ST in the House of the People and the Legislative Assemblies of the states shall be made having regard to the population of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes as ascertained at the 1971 Census”.

Reliance was placed by the ASGI on a 1967 judgment of the Supreme Court to contend that the validity of any law relating to delimitation of constituencies or the allotment of seats to such constituencies, made or purported to be made under Article 327 or Article 328 is not open to challenge in any court.

After hearing the parties, Justice Sanjeev Kumar opined “I am of the considered view that this court cannot issue a mandamus to the respondents to reserve a particular parliamentary constituency for the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe categories”.

He said “a view in this regard is required to be taken by the competent authority on the basis of recommendations made by the Delimitation Commission constituted under the Delimitation Act, 2002”.

He referred to March 2020 information from the Government of India saying a Delimitation Commission has been constituted for allocation of seats in the House of People to J&K and number of seats in the Legislative Assembly.

Justice Kumar observed “the Delimitation Commission is seized of the matter and exercise is underway, it would not be appropriate for this court to make intervention in the matter”.

“The petitioners, if aggrieved,” he added “are well within their right to approach the Commission with their representation and seek consideration of their grievance.”

The judge said “it is for the Delimitation Commission constituted for Jammu and Kashmir to consider the grievance of the petitioners and redress it if found genuine.”

The judge refrained from issuing any direction to the respondents to reserve one Parliamentary seat each for SCs and STs in J&K as prayed for in the petition.

The petition was found not maintainable and dismissed accordingly.

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