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EC vague on RTI query on whether J&K is part of Electoral College

Photo: rti.gov.in  

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has replied ambiguously to a Right to Information (RTI) query if the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be part of the Electoral College for the election of the President of India.

The RTI request by Shubham Khatri, a student at Ashoka University, sought a list of the State and Union Territory Legislative Assemblies which were part of the Electoral College for election of the President. Mr. Khatri also asked the EC to clarify whether the newly-formed Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir was part of the Electoral College.

The EC sent a single-line response, merely saying “for the information, applicant may be informed to refer Article 54 of the Constitution of India.” Under Article 54, the President is elected by an Electoral College, which consists of the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all the States and also of NCT of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

Passing mention

Article 54, thus, only specifically mentions NCT of Delhi and Puducherry as eligible to be part of the Electoral College. There is no word about the newly-formed UTs of J&K and Ladakh. The J&K Reorganisation Act, which came into existence from August 2019, does not specify anything about whether the legislature of J&K would be able to vote in the election for a President. A passing mention is made in Section 13 of the 2019 Act, which claims that J&K Legislature would have the same powers as its Puducherry counterpart.

“Astonishing thing to note is that not a single MP in parliamentary debate has pointed out this fact yet,” Mr. Khatri said.

Constitutional amendment

Inclusion of new members in the Electoral College in Article 54 would require a Constitutional Amendment to be carried out through two-thirds majority in Parliament and ratification by over 50% of the States. Delhi and Puducherry were included as Electoral College members under Article 54 through the Constitution (Seventieth) Amendment Act of 1992. Before that, Article 54 consisted of only the elected Members of Parliament as well as the Legislative Assemblies of the States.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2020 1:08:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ec-vague-on-rti-query-on-whether-jk-is-part-of-electoral-college/article31475745.ece

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