J&K council seat for Poonch native cannot go to Rajouri: SC
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Last Updated: Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 20:10
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that a JK legislative council seat reserved for a Poonch district native has to be filled only by a person residing within its current territory.

Upholding a March 2006 judgement by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, a bench of justices J M Panchal and Gyan Sudha Mishra said any resident of Rajouri district, carved out from Poonch, will not be eligible for the seat.

The High Court had quashed the election of Rajouri resident and People Democratic Party (PDP) legislator Tassadiq Hussain from the council seat and had declared Poonch resident and National Conference candidate Mohammed Rashid Qureshi elected in his place.

"The High Court's conclusion that the expression 'a resident of Poonch district' in Section 50 of the J&K Constitution (reserving the council seat for him) does not include a resident of Rajouri is just and fair," said the bench in its order yesterday, dismissing Hussain's appeal against the High Court judgement.

"The (J&K) Constitution is absolutely clear and unambiguous and, therefore, the reservation provided thereby for a resident of Poonch district, should not be construed to mean to include a resident of Rajouri district," the bench said endorsing the high court ruling.

The bench said that the meaning of a district should be understood in terms of its ordinary and popular meaning, which includes the territory within its existing boundary.

Hussain and Qureshi both had contested the March 2005 poll for the state's legislative council seat reserved for Poonch resident.

At the time of filing of nomination, Qureshi had raised objection before the returning officer to Hussain's candidature for a seat reserved for Poonch resident as the PDP candidate had disclosed in the nomination paper that he was a Rajouri resident.

Following objections, the returning officer had referred the matter to the Election Commission of India, which had dismissed the objection on the ground that Rajouri was earlier part of the Poonch and the residents of former were entitled to contest for the seat.

Quoting section 138 of the J&K constitution which empowers the poll panel to conduct polls in the state and have its superintendence and control over them, the Election Commission in its communication to the returning officer and later to the High Court had asserted that its views on the matter was binding.

Rejecting the poll panel's contention the apex court ruled that, the Election Commission's constitutional power to conduct and superintend elections does entitle it to "define boundaries of the constituencies or territorial limits of State legislature or legislative council."


First Published: Wednesday, November 24, 2010, 20:10

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