The Supreme Court on Friday, 13 May, asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration, the Centre and the Election Commission of India (ECI) to respond to a plea challenging the constitution of a delimitation commission for the purpose of redrawing constituencies in the erstwhile state.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh issued notices in this regard on the basis of a plea filed by two residents of J&K, and sought replies from the Centre, the ECI and the state's administration within six weeks, as per PTI.
The counsel on behalf of the two residents, Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Mohammad Ayub Mattoo, said that the delimitation exercise was contrary to the scheme of the constitution.
The plea questioned why J&K was singled out when, as per Article 170 of the Constitution, the next delimitation exercise in the country is due to take place only after 2026.
Court Questions Timing of the Plea
The bench also asked the petitioners why they had not challenged the creation of the delimitation commission when it was formed in 2020.
The court also questioned whether they had only challenged the constitution of the commission or the abrogation of Article 370 itself.
The plea had stated that only the EC could make any changes in the Union Territory.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the plea was two-fold, adding that delimitation could only be conducted by the EC, and not the delimitation commission.
"The answer to the questions is in the Reorganisation Act. There are two types of delimitations. One is geography which is conducted by the delimitation commission and the second is by election commission with regard to reservation of seats”, Mehta said, as per PTI.
The bench then stated that the plea was not against the abrogation of Article 370, but against the delimitation exercise.
The counsel then said that the delimitation order may be tabled in Parliament by the government, which would complicate matters further.
In its reply, the court asked, "If you were too anxious, then why didn’t you take it up two years ago?"
The matter was then slated for a hearing on 30 August.
(With inputs from PTI.)