According to the report, the panel headed by Justice (Retd.) Ranjana Prakash Desai may also recommend that the government consider bringing representation for Kashmiri Pandits in J&K assembly through law, as the delimitation process cannot do so since it is bound by its limited terms of reference and the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019.
It further says that the two only provide for creating new reserved seats for just one category- the Scheduled Tribes.
The report also highlights the representation made by Kashmiri Pandits with the delimitation panel and PMO seeking either the 'Sangha model' of Sikkim where a 'floating' constituency is reserved for Buddhist monks or like the nomination models seen in Puducherry assembly or for Anglo Indian as possible methods to ensure representation of 'minorities' in the J&K assembly.
The KPs, according to the report have maintained that over five lakh members of the community don’t have representation in the Union Territory, and have sought Commission’s intervention on the same.
“Meanwhile, the first paper on the allocation and resizing of 90 assembly constituencies including seats for STs in J&K is in 'a stage of readiness' and the delimitation panel is likely to invite associate members in December itself to discuss the same,” the report says.
It further adds that this step was necessary following which a draft notification will be put out in public domain prior to final notification of delimitation plan.
The panel has a March 2022 deadline for submission of its delimitation plan.
On March 6, 2020, the government of India set up the Delimitation Commission whose five associate members include National Conference MPs— Farooq Abdullah, Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi—besides Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitendra Singh, and Jugal Kishore Sharma of the BJP.
Although the Commission was tasked to finish delimitation in a year, on March 4 this year, it was granted a year’s extension. This was done on the request of the commission members since it couldn’t make much progress due to the “Covid-19-induced shutdown across the country.”
Jammu and Kashmir saw the last delimitation exercise in 1994-95, after 22 years, which resulted in an increase in the number of Assembly constituencies from 76 to 87. The Jammu region saw an increase of five seats (from 32 to 37 seats), the Kashmir Valley an increase of four seats (from 42 to 46) and Ladakh two seats (from two to four).
The erstwhile State as a whole had a total of 111 seats—24 reserved and vacant for Pakistan controlled Kashmir.
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