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Delimitation Commission to share progress with associate members on Dec 20

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NC yet to decide on attendance: Masoodi

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission has called a meeting with its associate members on December 20 in New Delhi to share the progress made in the delimitation of the 90 Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory.

The meeting has been called following an uproar by many politicians over the alleged uncertainty created by the Union Home Ministry’s remark in Parliament regarding the deadline for the commission to submit its recommendations.

The commission is headed by Justice (Retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai and its term ends in March 2022 after which Assembly elections are to be held.

The five associate members of the commission are Minister of State for, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions Dr Jitendra Singh and Jammu MP Jugal Kishore Sharma, both from the BJP; as well as National Conference (NC) MPs Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi.

The two official members of the commission are Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and state Election Commissioner, K.K. Sharma.

This is second meeting called by the commission after the first was held on February 18 which was attended only by the two BJP MPs, while the three NC members stayed away on the ground that the commission had been set up under Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, which the party had challenged in the Supreme Court.

Sources have indicated that the commission may consider giving representation to Kashmiri Pandits in the Assembly since it will be difficult for the community under normal circumstances to send its representative to the Legislative Assembly.

Options under consideration are Sangha Model of Sikkim where a ‘floating’ constituency is reserved for Buddhist Monks or like nomination models seen in the Puducherry Assembly for Anglo-Indians.

The Kashmiri Pandit community is spread over different parts of Jammu, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Maharashtra among others after their migration from the Valley in 1990s.

Under the existing provisions of the Constitution, only Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are entitled to 8 and 10 percent reservation in the Assembly, respectively, which means seven seats will be reserved for SCs and nine for STs out of the 90 proposed after the delimitation process is completed.

In addition to the 90 seats proposed, 24 will continue to remain vacant as they fall in the Pakistan-administered part of Jammu and Kashmir.

The erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Assembly had 87 seats out of which Kashmir division had 46, Jammu division 37 and Ladakh 4.

Meanwhile, National Conference MP Hasnain Masoodi on Saturday said they have received an invitation from the Delimitation Commission for a meeting in New Delhi on December 20 and that the party leadership will take a decision on their participation in it.

Masoodi and two other NC MPs — Farooq Abdullah and Mohammad Akbar Lone — had boycotted the first meeting of the commission earlier this year, saying the exercise was an outcome of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019, which the party has challenged in the Supreme Court.

In addition to the NC parliamentarians, BJP MPs Jitendra Singh and Jugal Kishore Sharma are associate members of the commission.

Masoodi told PTI, “Yes, we have received the invitation for the meeting.”

He, however, said no agenda for the meeting was mentioned in the invitation.

“We have not been given any kind of agenda or draft report or any support material,” he added.

Asked whether the NC MPs will participate in the meeting, Masoodi said the party leadership would take a call on the matter.

“The party leadership will discuss the matter and take a decision,” he said.

The commission is headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai and also comprises Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra as an ex-officio member and the Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer.

The commission has time till March 06 next year to redraw the boundaries and create new constituencies.

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