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 Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes 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.
Mr 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 constituency is reserved for SCs and STs.
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.