Doda , Udhampur and Kathua deserve more MLAs in J&K Assembly
Section -50 of J&K Constitution did keep 14 ( MLC ) elected members in Legislative Council from Jammu Region and only 12 (MLC) elected members in Legislative Council from Kashmir Region but section 47 of J&K Constitution did not set such criteria as regards the Members in the Legislative Assembly. But the logic demands that seats in the Legislative Assembly should also be more for Jammu Region as compared to Kashmir region. Where as in total disregard to spirit and provisions under lying the Constitution of J&K Justice K. K. Gupta Delimitation Commission had ordered on 27-04-1995 37 MLAs for Jammu Region and 46 MLAs for Kashmir Region. It should have been 46 seats for Jammu and 37 MLAs for Kashmir region. And ofcourse incase any amendment to Section 47 Sub Section -I of J&K Constitution is made to increase the number of total seats in the Legislative Assembly by 25 % i.e from 111 to 139 ( 30 seats for POK Section - 48 and 109 seats for this side ) it has to be on total basis and not regional basis. A rational delimitation would then allocate 57 to 58 MLAs to Jammu Region and 46 to 47 MLAs for Kashmir region and 5 to 6 for Leh and Kargil. A detailed exercise for distribution of seats as per the requirement of J&K Representation of People Act has been presented by me through Daily Excelsior, Dainik Jagran, State Times , Pride of India and The Northlines at occasions with facts and figures. Jammu region surely deserves more MLAs than Kashmir Region. DODA, Udhampur and Kathua districts have been unfairly treated.
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. Any Delimitation Commission has to readjust the extent and boundaries of the assembly constituencies ( Section-4 sub section-1 Clause-a ) ; determine the number of seats in Legislative assembly to be reserved for SC ( Section-4, Sub section-I Clause-b ) ; distribute the seats in the Legislative assembly to s ingle member territorial constituencies and delimit them having due regards as far as practicable to requirements as laid down in Section-4 sub Section-2.But spirit of the Act and Constitution of J&K have been violated by all the Delimitation Commissions so far constituted for the delimitation of single member assembly segments of J&K Legislative. assembly. violated over the years. A representative of nearness to the people of the backward/ far flung areas is what the J&K Representation of People Act 1957 had aimed at. But fair treatment to those from areas with lesser means of communication/ connectivity has been denied so far. And to be more particular people living in areas of lesser geographical compactness have been so far denied adequate number of MLAs in the J&K Legislative Assembly.
The result has been that the miseries, backwardness, illiteracy, poverty and ill health of the poor and backward area people has not been honestly medicated over last 50 years. The relative backwardness has grown. It is only due to this reason that people of farflung areas have suffered the most due to militancy. In view of larger distances and difficult terrains the MLAs are not able to frequently reach the needy of their constituency. The monitoring of development programmes too has hence suffered. MLAs find it difficult to timely address to the problems of those who fall in their constituencies.
The people of DODA, Udhampur, Kathua and Rajouri / Poonch have suffered the most over the years The people of Kupwara , Baramulla and Kargil too have suffered. But overall damage has been more to the people of Doda, Udhampur, Kathua and Poonch.
A fair trial under J&K Representation of People Act will give more MLAs to Jammu Region as compared to Kashmir Region. Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad as Chief Minister of J&K will be giving a District Head Quarter to common man more nearer to his home from April 2007 onwards. Hope he could also give a MLAs to people living in remote areas as near to their home as possible. He had his own political compulsions for not implementing the recommendations of Justice J. N. Wazir Commission in its true sense. As per Wazir Commission Recommendations Jammu Region would have got 9 Districts and Kashmir Region would have only 7 Districts. Jammu region would have 2 districts more than Kashmir Region.
His compulsion for gifting three more districts to Kashmir Region and only one to Jammu Province was simply to balance the weights as would have been tilted markedly towards Jammu Region in case Wazir Commission recommendations would have been implemented. Ghulam Nabi Azad had to sail the way Congress has sailed over last 6 decades. He could not afford reroute his boat just with in months of his having taken the reins. Number of districts in Jammu and Kashmir Regions will again be equal i.e 10 each. Pressures have been created from the areas of Basoli, Akhnoor, Bilawar and Bhaderwah for a District status after Shopian, Ganderbal and Kulgam have been accorded District status. And ofcourse the Ladakh region inview of the vast and difficult terrain too is simmering with demands for more administrative units ( Districts ) .
Congress Government in J&K has in July 2006 promised for setting up a fresh Delimitation Commission for Single Member segments of J&K Legislative Assembly. Demands for fresh delimitation of Assembly Segments had been made more particularly by the people from Jammu region only . Reason had been that the distribution of assembly segments had been irrationally done all these years. Kashmir Region had been given more seats than Jammu Region where as the people from Jammu Region feel that Kashmir region share should be less But the mind set of the leadership even from Jammu has been so minted that even those leaders from Jammu who demand fresh delimitation do not dare to demand more seats for Jammu as compared to Kashmir. Bhartiya Janta Party did demand till 1995 more seats for Jammu but the number demanded was always 38 to 39 out of 87. Recently some upward revision has been made by BJP.
It was in July 2006 itself that Ghulam Nabi Azad announced that a new Delimitation Commission will be appointed for fresh delimitation of seats in the Legislative Assembly. Simultaneously it was also announced that Government proposes to increase the existing number of seats ( MLAs) in the Legislative Assembly by 25 % for Jammu and 25% for Kashmir. This could be done by an amendment to Section 48 of the Constitution of J&K .Increase in number of MLAs would surely benefit the common man since the MLA will have lesser area to cover. But the announcement was not that fair. The reports did not say that the number of seats on the over all in the assembly will be increases by 25 % i.e present number of 83 seats for Jammu and Kashmir regions will be increased from 87 to 104 and then delimitation would be done.
No doubt under the present level of political consciousness even irrational amendments (like allocating 37 plus 25% MLAs for Jammu Region and 46 plus 25% MLAs for Kashmir Region ) to Section 47 and Section 48 of J&K Constitution could be moved and passed in the Assembly by majority Vote. But if it happens such vote will violate the spirit of Constitution of J&K .
*( Daya Sagar is social activist and senior coloumnist on Kashmir affairs).