After the first meeting of the Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, Union Minister Jitendra Singh hit out at National Conference MP Dr Farooq Abdullah and other lawmakers of the party for skipping the meeting. Talking to reporters, the Union Minister said that the "first meeting went well." He said that some members did not turn up for the meeting and "it is a delimitation exercise and not a platform for political posturing nor does it gets registered with EC."
"It's (Delimitation Commission) a constitutionally constituted body. Any stand taken against it is itself unconstitutional. When a member refuses to attend the meeting, he is denying the voices of his electorate being heard in this forum," the Union Minister said.
"On one hand, these members stand in Parliament and say that we should have an elected Legislative Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir but when a positive headway is made in that direction, they refuse to cooperate. They owe an answer to people who have sent them to Parliament," he added.
National Conference MPs led by party president Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday informed the Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir that they wouldn't participate in its proceedings as the abrogation of the erstwhile state's special status was pending adjudication before the Supreme Court.
In a letter to Delimitation Commission chairperson Justice (Retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai, Abdullah, Hasnain Masoodi and Muhammad Akbar Lone expressed their inability to associate with the commission. They also urged him not to go ahead with the delimitation process as the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is under judicial scrutiny.
The Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir was constituted by the Centre on March 6 last year to redraw Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies of the Union Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
"In our view, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is palpably unconstitutional and has been enacted in disregard and violation of mandate and spirit of the Constitution of India and therefore not to be acted upon," the MPs said in the letter. "We have thrown a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 exercise of powers whereunder the meeting in question is proposed to be held," it stated.
According to Section 60 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, "...the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114...." Out of these 24 seats are in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. So effectively, the seats will go up from 83 to 90. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir came into being on October 31, 2019, after the state was reorganised and divided into two Union Territories, Ladakh being the other.
(With PTI inputs)