Tribune News Service
New Delhi, February 17
Ahead of the first meeting of the Delimitation Commission for J&K on Thursday, the National Conference said it would not be part of the proceedings called in exercise of powers under a law whose constitutional validity was under judicial scrutiny.
Constituted by the Union Law Ministry on March 6, 2020, under Section 3 of the Delimitation Act-2002, the Delimitation Commission for J&K is mandated to delimit the constituencies of the UT in accordance with the provisions under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act-2019, which divided the state into two Union territories.
Declining an invitation from the commission to attend the meeting with associate members (Lok Sabha MPs from J&K) tomorrow, National Conference MPs said the J&K Reorganisation Act-2019 was “unconstitutional” and under judicial scrutiny and they could not attend proceedings that flowed from the Act.
“We have challenged the constitutional validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act-2019 and the Supreme Court has referred the petitions to a five-judge constitutional Bench for consideration. The petitions are expected to be taken up once physical hearings of the SC resume. With the constitutional validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act suspect, the principle of constitutional propriety demands that the law should await the Supreme Court judgment,” NC MPs Farooq Abdullah, Hasnain Masoodi and Mohammad Akbar Lone said in a letter to commission chairperson Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai today.
They urged the chairperson to halt the proceedings of the Delimitation Commission till the constitutional validity of the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 was settled.
“It would not be in tune with the spirit of the Constitution of India to associate with the proceedings taken in exercise of powers under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act-2019 the constitutional validity whereof is under challenge and under judicial scrutiny by the highest constitutional court,” NC leaders said.
They noted that under the constitutional scheme, the delimitation of the Assembly constituencies fell within the powers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and under Section 47 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir, the exercise was to be undertaken once the figures of the first Census after the year 2026 were published.
The term of the Delimitation Commission for J&K expires on March 5 this year.
Its members include Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and J&K Election Commissioner KK Sharma.
The delimitation of J&K Assembly segments is essential to hold elections there. The last such exercise was held in 1994 and 1995.
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