SRINAGAR, JULY 07 :
The Hon’ble Chairperson, Delimitation Commission, J&K (UT)
Subject: Memorandum from the “Group of Concerned Citizens”(GCC), J&K.
The GCC (Group of Concerned Citizens) J&K is an apolitical civil society collective not aligned to any political agenda, institution, ideology or affiliation. The Group comprises reputed academics, intellectuals and other persons of eminence with diverse backgrounds including former Civil Servants, Scientists, Advocates, Activists, Administrators, Entrepreneurs, Artists, prominent Citizens, Social Workers, Writers, Litterateurs and Journalists etc. The GCC take this opportunity to make the following submissions before the Delimitation Commission for due consideration:– 1. For the purposes of “delimitation” reference to the population is to be construed as population determined by the 2011 Census [section 62(1)(b) of the J&K Reorganisation Act ‘2019]. Population of the erstwhile state, as per Census 2011, was 1,25,41,302. This would come down to 1,22,67,013 with exclusion of population of Ladakh (2,74,289). Article 170(2) of the Constitution of India governing the ‘delimitation’ provides that “each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the State.” The constitutional provision thereby envisages a uniform population average throughout the constituencies. Given the total number of seats in the J&K Legislative Assembly (90) with a total population of 1,22,67,013, the average population that each constituency must have is 1,36,300. Even as there’s no specific mention of UTs as such in Article 170, it does enunciate a primary criterion/guiding principle governing the delimitation law i.e. population is to act as the principal factor for delimitation of constituencies. This is also so re-affirmed in the J&K Reorganisation Act’ 2019. 2. The “other factors’’ to be employed for ‘delimitation’ as laid down in Section 60(2) of the J&K Reorganisation Act’ 2019 are: “(a) all the constituencies shall be single-member constituencies; (b) all constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them, regard shall be had to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and conveniences to the public; and (c) constituencies in which seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall, as far as practicable, be located in areas where the proportion of their population to the total population is the largest.” The Delimitation of Assembly Constituencies in J&K was last conducted in 1995 (during President’s Rule) by a Delimitation Commission headed by Justice K.K.Gupta. As recommended by the Commission, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly was increased from 76 to 87 and distribution thereof made on the basis of population across the state except for Leh and Kargil Districts where the number of Assembly segments was increased from one each to two each on the basis of distinct and unique geographical factors separating the two Districts from rest of the state. Even as these two Districts were constituents of Kashmir Division, the “relaxed standards” were invoked for the specific, disadvantaged areas only and not to Kashmir Division as a whole. The same criterion of “relaxed standards” was further invoked to carve out FOUR(04) new Constituencies—one each in Baramula and Kupwara Districts viz Gurez ( in Dist., Baramula, now Dist. Bandipur), Karnah (in Dist Kupwara) and TWO(02) in District Udhampur (now Dist.Reasi) viz GulabGarh and Arnaas . It is important to note that, ethnically and linguistically, the people in the two Districts of Leh and Kargil and the Assembly segments of Gurez and Karnah are separate from each other. But they share a common of isolationimposed-by-geographical-conditions, resulting in these areas remaining cut off from rest of the (erstwhile) state for six to eight months a year. 3. The position at National-level again brings out preponderance of the Population factor in the delimitation of Parliamentary Constituencies without any weightage whatsoever to the ‘Total Area’ of a particular state as a whole. The point being made is further illustrated herein below by reference to the number of Parliamentary (Lok Sabha) Constituencies allotted to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Jharkhand and NCT of New Delhi:- S. No. State/UT No. of parliamentary (Lok Sabha) constituencies Total Population (2011) Area (kms) Average Population per parliamentary constituency Average area per parliamentary constituency 1. Uttar Pradesh 80 19,98,12,341 2,40,928 24,97,654 3,011.6
- Madhya Pradesh 29 7,26,26,809 3,08,245 25,04,372 10,629.134 3.
Assam 14 3,12,05,576 78,438 22,28,969 5,602.72 4.
Jharkhand 14 3,29,88,134 79,714 23,56,295 5,693.85 5.
NCT of New Delhi 7 1,67,87,941 1,483 23,98,277 211.85 4.
The primacy of Population as the principal determinant again came to be employed in the delimitation process undertaken in the recent years in Gujarat and Uttarakhand. The respective Districts as such, and not the Administrative Units down below like Patwar Halqa/ Circle, Tehsil & Sub-Division, were reckoned (without splitting them) for the purpose of delineating the boundaries of Assembly segments on the basis of average population worked out by dividing the state population by the number of Assembly segments. Departures were however made as EXCEPTIONS to the primary criterion of Population wherever the geographical contiguity and other factors in mapping of a Constituency put a particular ,defined area apart and distinct from the surrounding areas on account of physical features like mountains, river systems, connectivity and communication impediments. 5. Of the total state population of 125 lakh (Census 2011), 6.05 lakh persons have returned such mother tongues as are neither prevalent nor spoken in J&K, nor specified as ‘regional languages’ in the Constitution of the erstwhile state. A natural and logical deduction is that they could be non-state-subject employees of GoI Departments/Agencies/Army/ PMF etc. or Migrant Workers from other states which gets so reflected in their gender mismatch too. The Census 2011 reports their intra-state distribution as 32223 in Ladakh, 1,65,083 in Kashmir and 4,03,024 in Jammu Division with mother tongues like Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Gujarati, Kannada, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu etc. The Electoral Rolls (2018/19) of the twin Districts of Leh & Kargil present a loud and lucid case-in-the-point as barely 50(35 in Leh & 15 in Kargil) came to be registered as Voters from the aforementioned bracket of 32,223 persons with non-J&K-specific mother-tongue. 6. Voters and their numbers do not constitute a criterion in determination of the delimitation. Generally speaking, 35 to 40 % of the total population account for the 0 to 18 age group and, in a scenario such as this, the number of Voters may not exceed 60% of the population except where average life-span may be beyond 70 and the rate of infant mortality the lowest. The fact of those above the age of 08 in a particular Census enumeration becoming eligible for registration as Voters by the next decadal Census would not make a substantial difference in the projections due to attrition on account of deaths and migrations, besides uneven population growth in various communities. Further, the Census 2011 reflects a Voter- Percentage of 71.29 for a population of 5,23,6348 in Jammu Division and 58.33 for a population of 7023665 in Kashmir Division. By excluding the floating component of population i.e. those with non-J&Kspecific mother tongues the percentage of Voters in the former goes up to 77.23 and in the latter to 59.73. Individual cases of district of Reasi, Kathua and Jammu depict voter percentage to Census population at 83.75, 79.80 and 71.55 respectively. By excluding 91733 migrants from the population of Jammu District, being registered voters in respective Assembly Constituencies in Kashmir Division, the percentage of voters’ jumps to 76.11 from 71.55. From 1989-90 to 2002-03, the Voter- Enrolment in Kashmir Division as a whole and in large parts of Jammu Division, registered a minimal accretion, mainly on account of the given security situation coupled with the “Election Boycott” threats from separatists. Post 2002 Assembly Polls, however, there was a turn-around in the trend with Voter ID Cards becoming a principal means of identity proofs for mobility as also for availment of public-utility services. Even so, sizeable sections of society are not yet into the realm of ‘mainstream politics’ leading to shortfalls in the number of Voters vis-a-vis the total population when viewed in the context of the ‘national average/analogy’ on the percentage of voters to the total population (i .e. above 60%). 7. J&K represents an excellent example of unity in diversity. Otherwise its 04 constituent Units have nothing in common except for the administrative structure and system that has its genesis in the formation of the State way back in 1846. Geographically, ethnically and linguistically separate from one another( save a certain commonality between the Kashmir Valley and Chenab Valley), the 04 regions of J&K are: Jehlum Valley (Kashmir Division), Chenab Valley (Outer Hills), Peer Panchal (Jehlum basin) and the Submountainous/Semi- mountainous tract of Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Udhampur and Reasi Sub-Division. Nowhere in the world, the size or spread of an area, by itself, becomes a becomes a basis for apportionment of seats in the legislative bodies. The position obtaining at national level( in respect of Parliamentary Constituencies) further brings out the primacy and pre-eminence of the population factor in any process of delimitation or delineation of respective Constituencies. Quintessentially, it is the people who are meant to be represented in an Assembly or Parliament and not a lifeless, immoveable land mass. The law laid down for J&K under the Reorganisation Act of 2019 read with the Indian Delimitation Act’ 2002 envisages the population as the pivotal factor for fixing the number of Constituencies for a Legislative Assembly. 8. The premise of an Administrative Division or a territorial region being taken as a Unit is alien to the law of delimitation and therefore repugnant to the context. 9. Even after Census 2011, the discrepancy/dichotomy in the data on “migrant population” remains unresolved. The Census reflects 1,16,750 “Kashmiri-speaking” population “outside the State” with 91,733 and 7203 of such population spread out in the Districts of Jammu and Udhampur respectively. Contrary to their population, the number of migrant Voters is 93,373 only. On the matrix of 60:40 (but higher than the national average due to factors of life expectancy and low infant mortality) the migrant population meriting inclusion in the demography of Kashmir Division would work out to 1,35,190. Since the migrant population is to be included and indexed with the population of Kashmir Division for being registered as Voters, the population of Kashmir Division would, in consequence, increase to 70,23,665 from 68,88,475 (excluding the migrants settled outside the State and not registered as Voters in the local Electoral Rolls).The population of Jammu Division gets reduced to 52,36,348 from 53,71,538 by excluding the Kashmiri population of Jammu and Udhampur Districts. The West Pakistani refugees & Displaced Persons from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir are spread in seven Districts of Jammu Division and are so accounted for in the population of Jammu Division as indicated above. 10. The ‘delimitation’ may be conducted on an intra-district basis except where going beyond may be inevitable like, for instance, in Rajouri and Poonch Districts. The number of existing Assembly Segments may not be disturbed, as far as reasonably possible. Towards that end, appropriate adjustments with the adjoining Constituencies in the natural region may be considered. 11. The five parliamentary constituencies in J&K may broadly be retained in the present form. However, in case their delimitation becomes inevitable so as to bring about uniformity in the population per parliamentary constituency and to earmark a constituency by reservation for Scheduled Tribes, the following formulations may be considered:-. a. Each of the five parliamentary constituencies MUST have a population of more than 20 Lacs (based on the formula: population/no. of constituencies) At present, the population of Baramulla, Srinagar, Anantnag, Udhampur and Jammu parliamentary constituencies is 22, 96825/-, 2343020/-, 23, 80820/-, 2403229/- and 2876373 respectively. b. Carving out a tribal Parliamentary constituency comprising the districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi, and Udhampur may be considered to address the concerns and constraints of such historically disadvantaged sections of society. With coming into being of a separate ‘Tribal’ Parliamentary constituency, the three Districts of Jammu, Samba and Kathua would constitute the (existing) Jammu Parliamentary Constituency. We do hope that the learned Commission will give due consideration to the observations and suggestions made above.(KNS)
Group of Concerned Citizens.