Thursday, October 9, 2008
Delimitation Commissions have been so far unfair to people of J&K
There is a fair case for constituting a new Delimitation Commission. But for doing that first requirement is to amend Section – 47 of the J&K Constitution to undo the sealing as imposed under 29 th Constitution Amendment Act of 2002 that has laid down that any new Delimitation can be done after the census results of any census done after 2026 AD are known. Any talks on the issue without doing that would be meaning less. Not even the number of constituencies to be reserved for Schedule caste can be redefined and constituencies relocated.
Iron is hot for Dr. Farooq Abdullah to prove that his party is real saviour of the rights of people. National Conference is under real test of times. Congress for the sake of its survival in J&K and PDP for setting its roots in Kashmir would like to irritate National Conference leadership on different issues. And Farooq Abdullah and his party may not fall in their l net and further weaken its hold in Jammu region. It was during the days of National Conference Government that 29th Constitutional amendment was incorporated in 2002 . Let it be only the National Conference in 2008, the largest group in the J&K Legislative Assembly, again to pursue the cause but for withdrawing the 29th Constitutional amendment so that Delimitation Commission could be constitutionally constituted.
J&K State has its own Representation of the Peoples Act under the provisions as exist under the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu & Kashmir Representation of the Peoples Act of 1957 has so far not been used in its true spirit by any delimitation commission in the past.
Norms are laid down in J&K Representation of Peoples Act for deciding the distribution of seats in Legislative assembly ( MLAs) . Preamble of J&K Constitution secures to self social, economic & political justice. Democracy through Parliament & State Legislature is the ESSENCE of the Pledge laid in the Constitution. The J&K Representation of the Peoples Act and Section -50 of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir definitely go with the preamble and the directive principles. Providing a representative of nearness in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council is the essence of Representation of the Peoples Act as well as Section- 50 of J&K Constitution.
The areas of comparatively lesser geographical compactness fall more in Jammu Region than they fall in Kashmir Region. And on the over all legitimate voice level has been denied to the people of Jammu Region in the Legislature.
Justice K. K. Gupta Delimitation Commission ( 27-04-1995) had allocated 46 seats to areas falling in Kashmir Region and only 37 seats to areas falling in Jammu Region. The delimitation as done by K. K. Gupta commission does stand to the test of the constitutional requirements.
Test -1: Jammu Region has more elected MLCs ( 14 ) in Legislative Council than MLCs ( 12 ) that Kashmir Region has under Section 50 of J&K Constitution . How Jammu Region have lesser MLAs in Legislative Assembly.
Test -2 : Wazir Commission had recommended for increasing the number of districts from 6 to 9 in Jammu Region . Where as for Kashmir Region Wazir Commission had recommended that districts be increased from 6 to only 7. This has been due to Kashmir region being geographically more compact as compared to Jammu Region. Representation of the peoples Act to suggests like wise under Sub Section -2 Section-4.
Test-3 : The J&K Representation of People Act 1957 was designed by its authors in a very very special manner It could well be seen from the contents of clauses a - ( i) to a (v) of Sub Section ( 2) of section- (4) of the J&K RPA 1957. Four of five clauses under section four of the Act very explicitly demonstrate that any fair trial would allot more MLAs to areas falling in Jammu Region .
*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 ) : The surface transport infrastructure in Jammu region is at much lower level as compared to Kashmir region. Hence it is more difficult for a MLA of these areas to visit his people or for people to visit him. Surely more MLAs are needed.
* And the like considerations (Clause - a - v). Fair treatment has to be given to those who have suffered of neglect and under development over the years. For in tourism, agriculture and industrial infrastructure.
No census was done in J&K in 2001. Hence the K. K. Gupta Commission had to work on 1981 census figures only that require consideration under the provision of Clause a- I of Section-4 Sub Section -2 of the Act ( Population). Population forms one of the five parameters to be considered while delimiting the / fixing the jurisdiction of the constituencies ( MLAs). It does have bearing on decision making but does not have a direct bearing. This could be well understood when we look at the population covered by a constituency of Maharashtra Assembly in Bombay city or a Tamilnadu assembly Constituency in Chinai City and that even in a city like Shimla. Hence although as per 1981 census the population of Jammu Region had a proportion of 27.18 as is to 31.34 still it would have very less influence in favour of Kashmir Region under the provisions of J&K representation of the peoples act of 1957. Population is only one of the five parameters that are to be considered while doing delimitation.
Census has been done after that in 2001. But the 2001 census figures have been questioned for their fairness. 2001 Census figures show the population of Jammu Region as 4395712 souls ( 43.9 Lac ). As per the voter lists for Sep/Oct 2002 Assembly Elections showed 28 . 92 Lac voters for Jammu region. Where as the population for Kashmir Region as per 2001 census has been shown as (54.41 Lac ) but voters lists in 2002 had only 25 . 46 Lac Voters. How can the voters be so much less where population is more and vice versa . Hence surely will not be fair to use these figures unless people are satisfied.
Moral responsibility lies on National Conference. This party has directly or indirectly held the reins of policy making in J&K. The party has demanded Greater Autonomy for J&K in the name of erosion of provisions of Article 370 of Indian Constitution, so called 1952 Delhi Agreement and 1950 Constitution Application Order. Let National Conference prove to the people of Jammu Region that it really believes in rights of people and carry the slogan of constitution of a fair delimitation commission before October 2008 elections in the true spirit of J&K representation of the peoples act of 1957. It has also become necessary in view of number of districts having increased from 14 to 22 .
No one should be envy to the modified results incase the number of MLAs for the areas of erstwhile Districts of Kathua, Udhampur, Doda, Rajouri, Kupwara get additional 9 to 10 seats and those that fell under Districts of Jammu, Srinagar, Badam, Ananatnag , Pulwama lose 9 to 10 seats out of present total strength of 87 MLAs with Jammu Region getting around 45 to 46 MLA and Kashmir Region getting around 37 to 38 MLA. Though bitter for some but it will be the truthful exercise.
.(*Daya Sagar is leading scribe on Kashmir affairs firstname.lastname@example.org)