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
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
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."