- DC has to Delimit 90 Assembly Segments & mark Segments reserved for SC/ST as per Act 34 of 2019
- Modi lead NDA-III Govt. has cleared way to secure legitimate voice for common masses in legislature
Pakistani invaders had openly attacked on 22nd October 1947 the then Princely state of J&K (which had not by then acceded to India Dominion) from Kashmir valley side (Muzaffarabad district side) mistakenly thinking that it would be a very easy-go to take control of the Valley first & even of the ruler since the region then had more than 95 % population as Muslim with difficult surface transport connectivity from Jammu side and the then Maharaja of J&K had extremely depleted defence forces. But instead the invasion was totally opposed &invaders were rejected by the local population in Kashmir valley. And it was on 26th October that the Maharaja of J&K ultimately did sign the instrument of accession and the Indian forces could land in Kashmir valley on 27th October to take over the operations against Pakistani designs.
Encouraged with the appreciations the Kashmir Valley “masses” received from the Indian leaderships & Mahatma Gandhi ji in particular, for their having outrightly opposed the two nation theory it was in late 1950s that some Kashmir Valley based frontline leaders became ‘extra’ ambitious and ventured in to weaving a “web” for keeping a Valley centric grip on the future Elected Governments even with the wrongs like retaining the distribution of single member segments in Legislative Assembly ( MLAs) somewhat similar to the adhoc delimitation that was done in 1951 for the Constituent Assembly of J&K inspite of the fact that by then the J&K Representation of the People Act 1957 had been enacted laying down very elaborate method with deciding parameters for distribution of single member segments of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) over different areas of J&K state (keeping in view the geographical compactness, the terrain, the means of communication , population and like factors / parameters ) as also the Constituent Assembly having kept in the J&K Constitution under Section-50 more elected members permanently on regional basis for the areas outside Kashmir valley (Jammu region 14 elected MLCs, Kashmir Valley 12 elected MLCs and Ladakh region 2 elected MLCs ).
Not only denying due representation in the legislative assembly to people of distant and backward areas that lied mostly outside Kashmir valley it may not be out of place to mention here that inspite of the fact that there existed political reservation in the legislative assemblies of other Indian states as also in Indian Lok Sabha for the Schedule Tribe but in J&K reservation for ST was neither kept constitutionally in 1956 nor did the ‘leadership’ get that incorporated after 1957 which could be well alleged for the reasons of there being a large segment of ST population belonging to the areas outside Kashmir Valley which too had almost all the SC population.
Ofcourse some leadership from areas outside Kashmir valley too provided ‘yarn’ for the Kashmir centric ‘web’.
And hence the work of the Delimitation committees/ Commissions after 1957 was successfully got manipulated all these years defying the guidelines of J&K Representation of the People Act 1957 which could be well read even from the April 1995 order of the Delimitation Commission ( rather the only regular delimitation commission appointed after 1957) that distributed 46 MLAs over the areas in Kashmir Valley that had constitutionally only 12 elected MLCs as per Section-50 of J&K Constitution and only 37 MLAs over the areas outside Kashmir valley (excluding Ladakh region) that had 14 elected MLCs as per Section-50 of J&K Constitution as well as had 66% more area, on the overall much bad/ difficult terrain, much scarce surface transport/ communication links and relatively lesser administrative conveniences in comparison to Kashmir valley.
The J&K leadership that held the reins of governance through the 29th amendment to constitution of J&K even amended the constitution in 2002 so as to block the way for any new Delimitation of Assembly Segments before 2031 which was surely out of the fears of growing awareness about constitutional rights amongst the people outside Kashmir valley.
Nearly after more than six decades the present Narendra Modi lead NDA-III government has in 2019 through The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act N0 34 of 2019cleared the way for applying the corrections so as to secure the due democratic voice in the legislature to the people of distantly and badly placed areas of erstwhile state of J&K which now are part of UT of Jammu and Kashmir by opening the channels for delimitation of segments of Legislative Assembly ( MLAs) and creating a provision for reservation of seats for Schedule Tribe in the Legislative Assembly. In a way the number of seats to be reserved for ST and SC are already decided by the Act 34 of 2019 in relation to the population proportions of 2011 Census and the Delimitation commission has to only calculate the number on the basis of population of SC/ST and nominate the individual segments to be reserved as per the method laid in law. i.e preferably the segments that have high SC/ ST population %. Commission cannot create any category of reserved seats on it’s own like reservations for 1947 POJK DPs by defreezing some seats even out existing 24 seats kept for areas occupied by Pakistan ( Gilgit, Baltistan, Mirpur, Muzaffarabad etc.) what to talk of creating altogether new seat as floating constituency for ‘Kashmiri migrants’ which even if agreed upon can be done by Parliament only. Commission should also not leave even half reportings undismissed for such like proposals being there under consideration (of the commission).
To be continued
(Daya Sagar is Sr Journalist &
analyst of J&K affairs [email protected]).