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SC tells Centre, JK, EC to respond to plea challenging delimitation

New Delhi, May 13

The Supreme Court today asked the Centre, Jamp;K Administration and the Election Commission to respond to a petition challenging the decision to appoint a Delimitation Commission headed by Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai (Retd) to redraw the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in the newly created Union Territory.

A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul asked them to file their responses to the petition filed by Srinagar residents Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Mohammad Ayub Mattoo in six weeks. Asking the petitioners to file their rejoinder affidavit in two weeks thereafter, the Bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 30. Following a query from the Bench, the petitioners’ counsel clarified that he was not assailing the nullification of Articles 370 and 35A and the averments made in that regard could be ignored.

The Bench cautioned him against making objectionable submissions and asked him to choose his words properly. Kashmir was always a part of India and only a special provision was done away with. “If you were too anxious, then why didn’t you take it up two years ago?” the Bench asked the petitioners’ counsel. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said there were two types of delimitations. The first, as regards geography, was conducted by the Delimitation Commission and the second one on reservation of seats by the EC.

The petitioners questioned the increase in the number of seats from 83 to 90 (excluding 24 seats in PoK) in the Union Territory of Jamp;K, saying it went against Articles 81, 82, 170, 330 and 332 of the Constitution and statutory provisions, particularly Section 63 of the Jamp;K Reorganisation Act, 2019. They urged the top court to declare unconstitutional the March 2020 notification constituting the Delimitation Commission under Section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002, for being without power, jurisdiction and authority. “While Article 170 of the Constitution provides that the next delimitation in the country will be taken up after 2026, why has the UT of Jamp;K been singled out?” the petition filed by Jamp;K residents Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Dr Mohammad Ayub Mattoo asked.

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