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SC dismisses plea against delimitation exercise in J&K [Read Judgment]

By Lawstreet News Network      Feb 14, 2023      0 Comments      243 Views
SC dismisses plea against delimitation exercise in J&K

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday declared that there was no "illegality" in setting up of a delimitation commission to redraw the assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka dismissed the writ petition filed by Srinagar residents Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Dr Mohammad Ayub Mattoo, also noting the delimitation exercise was necessary as total assembly constituencies were increased from 107 to 114 under the J&K Reorganisation Act passed by Parliament in 2019.

The court, however, clarified it had not examined the validity of the exercise of power, since the issue of J&K reorganisation and the Presidential Order of August 2019 scrapping Article 370, which  granted special status to J&K, is pending in a separate proceeding before the Supreme Court.

"We are aware that the issue of the validity of the exercise of the said powers is the subject matter of petitions pending before this Court. We have not dealt with the issue of validity. Nothing stated in this judgement shall be construed as giving our imprimatur to the exercise of powers under clauses (1) and (3) of Article 370 of the Constitution,” Justice Oka wrote on behalf of the bench in 54-page judgement.

The petitioners challenged the validity of March 6, 2020 order without challenging the Presidential Order bifurcating the state into two Union Territories or the J&K Reorganisation Act providing for the operation of Delimitation Act, 2002 within J&K and increase of seats from 107 to 114.

Of these, 24 seats were to remain vacant by virtue of being under occupation of Pakistan.

“We clarify that the findings rendered in the judgment are on the footing that the exercise of power made in the year 2019 under clauses (1) and (3) of Article 370 of the Constitution is valid...We will have to proceed on the footing that the 2019 Presidential Order, the said declaration and the provisions of the J&K Reorganisation Act are valid," the bench said.

The court also pointed out Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution enabled the Parliament to create two new Union territories.

"The J&K Reorganisation Act which created the two new Union territories assigns the role of readjustment of constituencies to the Delimitation Commission under the Delimitation Act, 2002. Article 4 of the Constitution permits the Parliament to incorporate such provisions in the law made in accordance with Article 3 for the formation of new States and Union Territories which may be necessary to give effect to the provisions of the law. Such a law may also contain provisions as to representations in Parliament and in the Legislature of the State or States affected by such law," the bench said.

The bench agreed with a submission by the Centre that the petitioners had filed the plea in March last year when the Delimitation Commission’s report “was substantially acted upon” with the publication of draft order.

The Delimitation Commission was headed by former SC judge, Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and published its draft order on March 14, 2022.

The top court also agreed with the Centre's contention with regard to exclusion of four North Eastern States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland in view pending litigation with regard to delimitation exercise. It also rejected comparision with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states.

[Read Judgment]

Supreme CourtJammu and KashmirUnion TerritoriesDelimitation CommissionIllegalityLok SabhaJustice Sanjay Kishan KaulJustice Abhay S OkaSrinagar ResidentsHaji Abdul Gani KhanDr Mohammad Ayub MattooJ&K Reorganisation ActParliamentParliamentConstitutionOperation of Delimitation Act 2002Occupation of PakistanDelimitation CommissionJustice Ranjana Prakash DesaiAssamArunachal PradeshManipurNagalandAndhra PradeshTelangana
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