Srinagar, Feb 13: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir, but clarified that “nothing in this judgment shall be construed as giving our imprimatur to the exercise of powers under Article 370 of the Constitution in August 2019”.
In its verdict, the division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka said that there is absolutely no merit in any of the contentions raised by the petitioners.
“We may, however, clarify that the findings rendered in the judgment are on the footing that the exercise of power made in the year 2019 under clauses (1) and (3) of Article 370 of the Constitution is valid. We are aware that the issue of the validity of the exercise of the said powers is the subject matter of petitions pending before this Court. Therefore, we have not dealt with the issue of validity. Nothing stated in this judgment shall be construed as giving our imprimatur to the exercise of powers under clauses (1) and (3) of Article 370 of the Constitution,” the Court said.
Two Srinagar residents- Haji Abdul Gani Khan and Muhammad Ayub Matto- had filed a plea in the Apex Court last year to challenge the constitution of delimitation commission and the exercise of redrawing boundaries of Assembly and Parliamentary segments carried out by it.
The Supreme Court said the Article 170 is not applicable to the Legislatures of Union Territories.
“Hence, as far as the Legislative Assembly of the Union territory of J&K is concerned, Article 170 will have no application as it forms a part of Chapter III of Part VI which deals with only the State Legislature. It has no application to the Legislatures of Union Territories. The reason is that the Legislative Assemblies of the concerned Union Territories will be governed by the law made by the Parliament in accordance with Article 239A and not by the provisions of Chapter III of Part VI. As Article 170 is not applicable to the Legislature of the Union Territory of J&K, the main thrust of the argument that certain provisions of the J&K Reorganisation Act and actions taken thereunder are in conflict with Article 170 and in particular Clause (3) thereof is clearly misconceived and deserves to be rejected,” the Court said.
The petitioners had contended that the delimitation exercise was in violation of the scheme of the Constitution of India, especially Article 170(3), which had frozen delimitation till the first census after 2026.
On the petitioners contention that the act of increasing the number of seats from 107 to 114, is violative of Articles 81, 82, 170, 330 and 332 of the Constitution of India, the Court said that none of these provisions deal with the Legislature of any Union territory.
“Article 82 deals with the readjustment and allocation of seats of the House of Parliament after the census and Article 170 deals with legislatures of the States. None of these provisions deal with the Legislature of any Union territory. Article 330 deals with the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People. Article 332 deals with the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States. Both these provisions do not deal with reservation of seats for the House of legislature of Union Territories. In any case, even assuming that Article 332 can be applied to the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislatures of Union territories, it is not shown how the act of increasing the total number of seats in the legislature will offend Article 332, so long as the reservation is maintained as per the formula provided under Article 332,” reads the judgment.
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