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Leaders of political parties meet Delimitation Commission, say conduct exercise in a free, fair and transparent manner

Political parties in Kashmir on Tuesday urged the visiting Delimitation Commission to allay apprehensions of the people over the exercise by conducting it in a free, fair and transparent manner.

The commission — led by Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai — arrived on Tuesday on a four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to interact with leaders of political parties and officials to gather “first hand” inputs on the conduct of the mega exercise to carve out new constituencies.

Several parties, including the National Conference, People’s Conference, Congress and the CPI(M), submitted separate memoranda to the visiting delegation.

Along with the Peoples Democratic Party, Awami National Conference decided not to be part of the exercise.

In their representations, the National Conference and the Congress outlined their concerns and demands related to the exercise, and saying it be carried out only after Jammu and Kashmir is granted statehood again.

The CPI(M) also submitted a memorandum that highlighted the constitutional aspects of delimitation and the legal challenge to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

The commission’s visit came days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with leaders from Jammu and Kashmir and pitched for early conduct of elections after the delimitation exercise is completed.

The National Conference said the delimitation exercise should not have been conducted till the Supreme Court decided on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 and other related orders.

It said the hearing in the cases got delayed due to the pandemic and all the petitions are expected to be taken up once the physical hearing commences.

The party said in its memorandum that the implementation of any Act which is under the scrutiny of the court may amount to preempting the judicial verdict.

The party said that under the constitutional scheme, the delimitation of assembly constituencies fell within the powers of the state of J&K and under the second proviso to sec 47 of the Constitution of J&K, it is to be undertaken once the figures of the first census after 2026 are published.

The party said the delimitation exercise would be a credible effort in strengthening democracy only after full statehood is restored to J&K.

“Despite our basic reservations on the issue, the commission has decided to go ahead with the delimitation process. While reiterating our stand and without prejudice to the submissions made above, we request you and other members of the Commission to carry out the delimitation exercise in a free, fair and transparent manner so that the unity and integrity of the state are safeguarded. The population has to be the only norm as has been the practice here in the past in J&K and elsewhere in the country,” it said.

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