After over two years since it was appointed, the Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir is likely to make its award public on Thursday, according to officials aware of the development.
The number of constituencies and their boundaries is likely to be made public through a gazette notification on Thursday morning, an official said. The completion of the delimitation exercise would pave the way for elections in Jammu and Kashmir, the first since the erstwhile State was made into a Union Territories and its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution read down in August 2019.
The term of the commission, headed by Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai and including Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra as a member, is set to end on Friday, after two extensions — first from March 6, 2021 to March 6 this year and then a two-month extension till May 6.
Appointed on March 6, 2020, the commission was tasked with redrawing the boundaries of Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir and increasing the number of seats from 83 to 90. In its draft report, the commission proposed increasing six seats in Jammu region and one in Kashmir.
The commission had published its draft report, seeking public objections and suggestions, on March 14, and then visited Jammu and Kashmir in April to hold consultations. The National Conference, whose three MPs are associate members of the Delimitation Commission, had rejected the panel’s draft reports, raising concerns over the variation in population across seats and the creation of “islands” where parts of a constituency are completely cut off from the rest of it.
The NC also questioned the validity of the delimitation exercise, which is being carried out under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, a challenge to which is pending in the Supreme Court.