New J&K Assembly may have 18 seats reserved for SCs, STs

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Previous SC seats likely to be rotated

STs to have political reservations first time

JAMMU, Feb 27: The Delimitation Commission might reserve somewhere around 18 Assembly seats out of a total of 90 for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir after assessing the constituencies where there is maximum population of the two communities.
Last Assembly of erstwhile State of J&K had only seven seats reserved for SCs while STs had no reservation and this will be for the first time that they will be getting reservation in the Assembly.

Reliable sources told that the Delimitation Commission which has already set the process in motion for delimitation of 90 Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir could reserve 18 seats for SCs and STs leaving 72 constituencies Open.

However, sources maintained that a final call on how much seats the Delimitation Commission will reserve in first Assembly of the Union Territory will be taken after taking several criterion into consideration including population of the two communities.

Sources indicated that at least 11 seats could be reserved for Scheduled Tribes and seven for Scheduled Castes.
While Scheduled Castes already enjoyed reservation in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly with seven seats reserved for them, all in Jammu region, this will be for the first time that the Scheduled Tribes will get reservation in the J&K Assembly.

The STs have political reservations in majority of States but Jammu and Kashmir had denied reservations to them in the Legislative Assembly.

ST populated Assembly segments mostly fall in Kashmir division besides Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu region.

In reservation for the posts of Chairpersons of the District Development Councils (DDCs), Rajouri and Poonch districts were reserved for Scheduled Tribes.
DDC Poonch was reserved for ST Woman.

“Seven seats to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes will be different in the next Assembly,” sources said, adding that previously reserved seats are likely to be de-reserved and new seats with maximum Scheduled Caste population will be reserved.

Seven seats which were reserved in the last Assembly for Scheduled Castes include Chhamb, Domana, RS Pura, Samba, Hiranagar, Chenani and Ramban.

“The seats to be reserved for Scheduled Tribes could also be based on population,” according to sources.

While splitting Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories through the Reorganization Act, the Union Home Ministry had increased Assembly seats of Jammu and Kashmir by seven taking total seats to 114-24 of which are reserved for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) while election will be held for 90 seats.

Erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir had 111 seats including 24 reserved for PoK while elections were held for 87 seats. With creation of Ladakh as Union Territory, four seats of the region were reduced and the Assembly was left with 83 seats.
However, with increase of seven seats, J&K UT will have an Assembly of 90 seats.
Two Women MLAs will be nominated to the House, which was the position earlier also.

In the previous Assembly, Kashmir had 46 seats, Jammu 37 and Ladakh four.

Delimitation of the Assembly constituencies was last held in 1994-95 during the President’s Rule when seats of the erstwhile State Assembly were raised from 76 to 87.
Jammu region’s seats were increased from 32 to 37, Kashmir’s from 42 to 46 and Ladakh’s two to four.
However, the delimitation was freezed in 2002 by the then National Conference Government headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah in lines with the decision taken by then Central Government headed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Elections to the Legislative Assembly will be held only after delimitation of Assembly constituencies is completed.
According to sources, there can be altogether different Assembly constituencies with different boundaries as it will not be binding on the Delimitation Commission to stick to the segments, which existed in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly.
(The Awam News)

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