Friday, December 8, 2023

Supreme Court dismisses challenge to delimitation in Jammu & Kashmir

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The Supreme Court, on Monday, dismissed a petition challenging the delimitation exercise carried out for redrawing the Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.

The apex court dismissed the petition filed by Srinagar residents-Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Muhammad Ayub Matto.

The Bench comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and A S Oka after hearing the submissions of Senior Advocate Ravi Shankar Jandhyala, representing the petitioners in December last year had reserved the judgment.

The bench also said that it has not ruled upon the validity of the Jammu & Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019 which is pending before the top court in the batch of petitions challenging abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.

“We have dismissed the petitions. We have given the rider that the issue of the Reorganisation Act is pending before this Court and we have not said anything on the merits of the same,” the Court said.

In March 2020, the Union government set up a Delimitation Commission for J&K to redraw Assembly and Parliament seats in accordance with J&K Reorganization Act-2019. The exercise was completed on May 5 2022 when the delimitation panel unveiled its final order.

The petition asserts that the impugned Delimitation notification, which directed the process of delimitation to be carried out in UT of J&K to be done on the basis of the 2011 population census, is unconstitutional as no population census operation was carried out in 2011 for UT of J&K.

The plea also challenges the increase in the number of seats from 107 to 114 (including 24 seats in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir) in Jammu and Kashmir to be ultra vires Articles 81, 82, 170, 330 and 332 of the Constitution and Section 63 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

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