J&K’s ‘Election Commissioner’ to be part of delimitation panel

Four Lok Sabha members of UT likely to be appointed as associate members for exercise
Srinagar, Feb 21 : Jammu & Kashmir’s election commissioner would be part of the three-member panel to be set up by the Government of India for delimitation of Assembly constituencies of the Union Territory, officials revealed on Friday.

A senior official told wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that LG of J&K UT would appoint election commissioner under the Article 243K and 243Z of the Constitution of the India, which are part of the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.

“The Government of J&K UT has to appoint election commissioner so that it will be represented in the panel,” he said, adding the panel would be constituted under delimitation Act 2002.

Under the law, the panel is headed by a serving or former judge of the Supreme Court and comprises of Chief Election Commissioner or a representative nominated by him and State/UT election commissioner.

Four Lok Sabha members from J&K UT would also be appointed as associate members of the panel, the J&K Re-Organization law states.

As per KNO, under the law, four Assembly members of UT or four Lok Sabha MPs will be appointed as associate members for the exercise. The associate members would neither have voting right nor can they sign any decision of the ECI, the law states. The official said that the CEO and election commissioner are two different entities.

“The CEO is representative of the Election Commission of India which is empowered to hold Assembly and Parliamentary elections in all States and UTs. The Election commissioner is appointed by LG under Article 243 K of the Constitution of India for holding rural bodies and municipal elections in states and UTs,” the official disclosed.

The CEO of Jammu and Kashmir, they said, has been empowered to hold Panchayat and urban local bodies till December 2020 by the Governor Satya Pal Malik-led administration in 2018 by making amendments in the J&K’s Panchayat and municipal laws.

“The CEO is not election commissioner of J&K as he has not been appointed under the Constitution of India. The government can appoint him or any other officer as election commissioner by issuing notification under the relevant provisions of the Constitution of India,” said another official.

According to the official, UTs of Delhi and Pondicherry have constituted separate election commissions for holding elections to local self-governance institutions. Under the Re-organisation Act, the delimitation panel has to increase seats to 90 from existing 83, draw boundaries of assembly segments and reserve seats for schedule castes and schedule tribes.