MPs from UT of J&K will be facing a real test for getting done Fair Delimitation of 90 LA Segments

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Daya Sagar

The J&K State Delimitation Commission had distributed vide its order issued on 27-04-1995 46 seats ( MLAs) over the areas falling in Kashmir Region, 37 seats (MLAs) to areas falling in Jammu Region and 4 over areas falling in Ladakh region out of 87 in the Legislative Assembly of the erstwhile Indian State of J&K in terms of the active strength for elections having been increased from 76 to 87 by a constitution amendment in 1987. But the distribution done surely did not test to a fair trial under the provisions of J&K Representation of the People Act 1957, Act No IV of 1957. Now after passage of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act 2019 Act No.34 of 2019 by Parliament new Delimitation Commission has been appointed for delimiting 90 seats in the Legislative Assembly of UT of J&K extending over Jammu Region and Kashmir Region of erstwhile State of J&K. The parameters laid for Delimitation are almost the same as were there in J&K RPA 1957 Section-4 of RPA1957: *Population, Geographical Compactness, *Nature of terrain, Facilities of Communication* and the like considerations.
Test -1: Jammu Region had in terms of Section-50 of J&K Constitution more elected MLCs (14 ) in Legislative Council than Kashmir Region had (12). How could Delimitation Commission in 1995 order 37 MLAs for Jammu Region and 46 MLAs for Kashmir Region out of 83?.
Test-2 : Going by the number of seats in Constituent Assembly/ Legislative Assembly as were allocated in 1951on the basis 1941 census i.e 40,21,616 @40000 souls as only parameter ( 43 to Kashmir Region and 30 to Jammu Region ) it could be inferred that the proportionate population for (unoccupied) Kashmir Valley was assumed as172000 and for (unoccupied) Jammu Region just as 1200000.But as per 1941 census data in the Administrative report (16-10-1940 to 15-101941) of the Government of J&K the population of Jammu Province was 20,01,557, Kashmir was 17,28,686 and that of Gilgit / frontier Illakas of Skardu, Kargil & Ladakh was 3,11,915. So the 1951 exercise surely comes under question mark since nearly one district from Kashmir valley out of the then three districts ( Anantnag, Baramulla, Muzaffrabad ) had been occupied by Pakistan in 1947 and still 1720000 population out of 17,28,686 was assumed to be left there in unoccupied area of Kashmir Region where as 8,01,557 out of 20,01,557 was taken as left in POJK from Jammu region even when around 40,000 families were displaced from POJK (who had mostly settled outside Kashmir region).There was no census in 1951.Census proportionated in 1961 showed population of Jammu Region as around 16 lakh and Kashmir Valley as around 18 lakh. Although J&K RPA 1957 was by now in place laying 5 guiding parameters (Section-4 of RPA1957 : *Population, Geographical Compactness , *Nature of terrain ,Facilities of Communication * and the like considerations)for delimitation of Legislative Assembly Segments but once again in 1966 on adhoc basis only one seat was reduced from areas falling in Kashmir Region and seats over Jammu region increased 30 to 31.As per 1957 Act population was only one of 5 parameters but still even only on 1961 population basis for Jammu region there was one MLA for app 51600 as against 42850 souls for Kashmir region. Action of changing the numbers as 32 for Jammu region & 42 for Kashmir region & 2 Ladakh region without any regular delimitation too remained unfair (by 12th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1975 of 19-08-1975 Clause – a of Section 48 of J&K Constitution was amended to increase the seats open for elections from 75 to 76 out of 100 ),
Test- 3: Corrections should have been made after J&K RPA 1957 was enacted laying down in a very considerate manner the guiding parameters for delimitation { Section-4 of RPA1957 : *Geographical Compactness (Clause a- ii ) : Jammu region is much less compact than Kashmir region: *Nature of terrain (Clause – a – iii ): The terrain of areas in Doda , Kishtwar, Udhampur, Reasi, Kishtwar, Ramban, Kathua, Rajouri and even some parts of Samba District is bad and difficult as compared to most of the areas in Kashmir region.*Facilities of Communication (Clause – a- iv), * and the like considerations (Clause – a – v)The surface transport infrastructure in Jammu region was at much lower level as compared to Kashmir region making it more difficult for a MLA visit his people or for people to visit him.}. But that was not done even in a regular Delimitation Commission order of 1995 that distributed 46 MLAs over Kashmir Region and only 37 MLAs over Jammu region out of 83 where as in fairness more MLAs should have been distributed over Jammu region ( may 45 to 46) since 4 out of 5 parameters laid in J&K RPA 1957 more favoured the areas falling in Jammu region. Writer too had submitted his draft notes on the exercise done by him to the Chairman Delimitation Commission in 1994 to enable the DC have a birds eye view (The material prepared by the writer had also been published in the leading Daily News Paper of J&K (14-06-1992, 14-07-1992,26-02-1993, 4-101993,25-03-1995, and like ).
Test-4: Jammu Region ( over 26000 sq km area i.e 26293 sq km ) had 6 District Administrative Units before 1979 and Kashmir Region ( 15948 sq km) had just 3 District administrative Units ( that were so unfairly made equal to Jammu Region i.e 6 in 1979). Justice Wazir Commission had in 1984 recommended for increasing the number of districts from 6 to 9 in Jammu Region where as for Kashmir Region had recommended increase from 6 to only 7.That was surely recommended in view of Kashmir region being geographically more compact as compared to Jammu Region ( parameter also laid in Sub Section -2 Section-4 of RPA 1957).But so unfairly in 2006 the then Government gave 300 % more than what was recommended by Wazir Commission (in 1984) to Kashmir region increasing districts there from 6 to 10 and only 33% more to Jammu region than what was recommended by Wazir commission ( in 1984 ) there too also increasing the districts from 6 to only 10.
Test:5 Population carries a fraction of score which could be seen from the fact that in Presidential election a UP MLA carried 200+ points and a J&K MLA carried around 70+ points weight.
The Section-60 of the Act 34 of 2019 of Parliament also significantly makes reference of existing boundaries of District administrative units and to go by that the Delimitation Commission for the single member segments of Legislative Assembly of J&K will be required to have a very intimate feel also of the geo administrative order of the state of J&K that existed immediately after 1957 viz. viz. for applying the needed weightage to the guiding parameters what exits in 2021 like before 1979 Jammu Region had 6 districts ( Doda, Udhampur, Kathua, Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch ) Kashmir region had only 3 districts ( Baramulla, Anantnag, Srinagar ) but by 2021 districts in Kashmir region have been increased from 3 to 10 i.e.333% increase where as in Jammu Region Districts have been increased from 6 to only 10 i.e.166% ( SRO 306 of 6/6/1979 Baramulla, Kupwara, Anantnag, Pulwama, Srinagar, Badgam then SRO 185 of 22 May 2007 Baramulla , Bandipora , Kupwara, Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Srinagar, Ganderbal, Badgam ; SRO 185 of 22 May 2007 Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Udhampur, Reasi, Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri, Poonch ).
So before any delimitation exercise was started for 90 Seats in Legislative Assembly of UT of J&K there was utmost need for correcting the faulty location of Districts as done earlier to greater disadvantage of the backward and distantly placed areas & population of the two regions of J&K state. But now since the Delimitation Commission has already started work before getting corrected the deceptive reorganizations of District Administrative units done in 1979 & 2007 it is for the Associate Members ( J&K MPs) in the Delimitation to bring this parameter very pointedly to the notice of official members of Delimitation Commission so that they do not get carried by the illusion resting in references like both Jammu and Kashmir Region having equal number of districts (10 each) in 2021 with Shopian District (612.9 sq km ? https://shopian.nic.in) having only (1) Tehsil in 2007 but (7) Tehsils in 2021 and Rajouri District (2630 sq Km) having (7 ) Tehsils even in 2006 & only (13) Tehsils in 2021..
The people of the present districts of DODA/KISHTWAR/RAMBAN; Reasi/ Udhampur; Kathua, Rajouri, Poonch, Kupwara, Baramulla have been so far unfairly treated by the Delimitation Commissions/ District Reorganisation Committees.
There are 3 Associate members ( MPs) with Delimitation Commission from Kashmir Division and 2 (MPs) from Jammu region and although they do not have voting rights but they have strong technical threads with then for getting the corrections applied to the wrongs done over last 7 decades.
With changed constitutional environment and policies regarding handling J&K affairs the associate members can surely get corrections made though some fear that it will be a ‘litmus test’ for them. People and lands of distant and backward areas are looking at the Jammu region MPs with great hopes. Ofcourse as per media reports 2 Associate members in DC meeting of 18-02-2021 are said to have pleaded the genuine cause of the people and areas so far unfairly treated.

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