Delimitation in J&K: ECI nominates Election Commissioner for Panel

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SRINAGAR — After a gap of over six months of Centre’s announcement about abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UTs), the Government of India (GoI) has set the ball rolling with the Union Law Ministry seeking nomination for the panel from Election Commission of India.

The ECI while responding to the Union Law Ministry has nominated Sushil Chandra, who at present is the election commissioner with the ECI while as other nominations are awaited. Reliable sources said that the commission would be chaired by a retired judge.

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“The GoI has started shortlisting names and will notify the Delimitation Commission soon,” an official at the ECI said, wishing not to be named.

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It is expected that the next round of elections in J&K would only be held after the delimitation process is complete – redrawing boundaries and size of constituencies – on the basis of the 2011 census. Pertinently, the ECI had held its first meeting on the proposed delimitation in August 2019 itself – days after Parliament passed the J&K Re-Organisation Act, 2019.

While it was widely expected that such a communication or notification would be issued after October 31, 2019 – once the J&K Re-Organisation Act comes into effect – the notification is still awaited.

According to J&K Re-Organisation Act, 2019, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly are to increase from 107 to 114 with due reservations for SC and STs. There will be no Assembly for Ladakh UT as per the J&K’s Re-Organisation Act 2019.

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Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) General Secretary (Organisation), Ashok Koul said that the GoI is serious about delimitation and the BJP’s demand is that the area, population and topography be kept in mind while carrying out the exercise. “We believe that the exercise will start in April-May and end by August. The Assembly polls are likely to be held in October-November this year,” Koul said.

The 24 seats reserved for the people of Pakistan administered Kashmir, will continue to remain reserved, as per the J&K’s Re-Organisation Act 2019.

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