Nothing pre-planned, draft to be put in public domain: Panel
Jammu: Stating that the exercise is to be a very transparent, Delimitation Commission on Jammu and Kashmir on Friday said that draft prepared will be put to public domain for consensus.
“Exercise is to be a very transparent, there should be no fears, apprehensions. The draft prepared in coming days by taking all Commission members on board, is to be put in public domain for objections, debate,” said Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner, (CEC), one of the three-member Commission, during a press conference here on the fourth and last day of their visit to the Union Territory.
The Chairperson of the Commission, Justice (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai, Deputy Election Commissioner Chandra Bhushan, State Election Commissioner, K K Sharma and Chief Electoral Officer, Hridesh Kumar were also present.
“We had threadbare discussions with the J&K’s political parties, civil society groups and NGO heads and the exercise to re-draw boundaries of Assembly constituencies of the UT is a “very complex issue,” he said.
The CEC, however, said that the process will be completed in a very transparent manner and the draft prepared will be put in a public domain for objections and queries after which associate members of the commission will also be consulted for preparing the final draft.
Countering People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti’s allegations that everything was pre-planned, the Delimitation Commission said that nothing is pre-planned and had it been, they would not have visited to Jammu and Kashmir to meet different sections.
“Nothing is pre-planned and had it been then why would we have come to interact with people in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Chandra.
“We met 800 people in 290 groups and for that we have constitutional mandate,” said the CEC.
The Chairperson Justice (Retired) Ms Desai on boycott of Delimitation Commission by the PDP, said, “we can only interact to those who wanted to meet us, participate in the process and those who didn’t come, what we can say about them.”
“This is our first visit to J&K and assure you, this is not the last, will come again to know the viewpoint of many more,” she said.
The Chairperson said, “we will be able to complete delimitation process in fair, transparent and judicious manner.”
On demand for justice to Jammu region, the CEC added, “for us Jammu and Kashmir is one. Delimitation will be done on 2011 census. Geographical compactness, topography will also be looked into.”
The Delimitation Commission also said that 24 seats of PaJK will remain vacant and not be included in this Delimitation.
The members also hinted at giving a due representation to the people belonging to Scheduled Tribe and Scheduled Caste groups in the J&K UT in the newly constituted Assembly.
“In four days, the Commission met around 800 people from 290 delegations at Srinagar, Pahalgam, Kishtwar and Jammu,” the Commission said.
“We have been provided the details of last available census that is—2011, patwar halqas and the district areas, population figures etc. In the last census done in 2001,” he said adding, “we are quite happy to see great participation in the process. I would say that difficult terrain wasn’t acknowledged in the earlier delimitation done in 1995.” Population has to be the main criteria for delimitation but priority will be also the area, geography, topography and also the communication facilities of the areas,” he said.
Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995.
The last exercise was conducted by the Justice (retired) K K Gupta Commission when the state was under President’s Rule and was based on the 1981 census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996.
There was no census in the state in 1991 and no Delimitation Commission was set up by the then state government after the 2001 census as the J&K Assembly had passed a law putting a freeze on the fresh delimitation of seats until 2026.
The Commission also expressed that they were overwhelmed with the participation in the exercise. (UNI)