SC upholds freeze on delimitation in J&K till 2026

Last Updated: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - 22:25

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today upheld the
freeze imposed by Jammu and Kashmir government on delimitation
of assembly constituencies in the state till 2026 and
dismissed the plea that it violated the "basic structure" of
the Constitution.

Rejecting J&K Panther`s Party chief Bhim Singh`s
argument that it deprived SC and STs the right to represent
the Valley, the apex court in a judgement said courts cannot
interfere in matters of delimitation as there was an express
Constitutional bar on such interference.

By an amendment to Jammu and Kashmir Representation of
the People Act 1957 and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of J
& K made in 2002, the state decided to freeze the delimitation
exercise till 2026. The last census operation in the state was
completed in 2001 but the delimitation was done in 1995.

The state High Court had upheld the validity of the
amendment, following which the party appealed in the apex
court.

The main plea of the petitioner was that the freeze would
result in strong imbalances without the demographical changes
being properly reflected and the essence of democracy will be
defeated.

Singh said that of the 37 constituencies in Jammu, some
are reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes whereas
of the 46 constituencies in Kashmir Valley, not a single is
reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Dismissing the plea, a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi
and Asok Kumar Ganguly said "we are of the opinion that a
right to caste vote is a valuable right but to demand any
uniform value of one’s voting right through the process of
delimitation, disregarding the statutory and constitutional
dispensation based on historical reasons is not a justiciable
right.

"In the context of this question, we must keep in
mind the constitutional scheme in Part XV relating to
election. Article 327 of the Constitution empowers Parliament
to make a law relating to delimitation of constituencies.

"The mandate of Article 329A is that any law
relating to the delimitation of constituencies or the
allotment of seats to such constituencies shall not be called
in question in any court. Identical provisions have been made
in Section 142 of the Constitution of J & K. Section 142(a)."

The apex court also rejected the plea that the
amendment violated the basic structure of the Constitution.

"The other aspect of the question is that the
amendment to Section 47(3) of the Constitution of J & K
violates basic structure of the Constitution. This challenge
is also not based on a sound principle.

"We must have a clear perception of what the
basic structure is. It is hazardous to define what is the
basic structure of the Constitution as what is basic does not
remain static for all time to come," Justice Ganguly writing
the judgement said.

-PTI



First Published: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 - 22:25

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