‘Idea is to give immediate democracy’: Centre defends J&K delimitation

Dec 02: The Supreme Court has reserved the judgment in a plea challenging the J&K delimitation even as the Centre justified the exercise saying the idea was to give “immediate democracy” to the Union Territory.

Under the amended Article 82 of the Constitution, 2026 was the year for delimitation to readjust seats in the Lok Sabha to the states and the division of each state into territorial constituencies.

“The last delimitation had taken place in 1995. We don’t want to point out what went wrong at that time since it is not a matter being argued currently. But the government’s idea was to give immediate democracy to J&K. To wait till 2026 was legislatively found to be unwise,” solicitor general Tushar Mehta told a bench, led by justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

In August 2019, Parliament passed laws effectively doing away with the special status granted to J&K, and split the region into two Union Territories.

The delimitation commission, which comprised former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, then chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra and chief electoral officer of J&K KK Sharma, was set up in March 2020 with five parliamentarians from the UT as associate members.

Earlier this year, the three-member delimitation commission finalised the UT’s new electoral map, marking the first step for elections in the region since its special status was scrapped in August 2019. In its final order, the commission earmarked 43 seats to Jammu region and 47 to Kashmir – making up a total of 90 seats for the Union Territory’s assembly, up from the current strength of 83.