Thursday, June 8, 2023
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First Step Towards Political Rehabilitation of the Pandits-A welcome move

B L Saraf

Across the ambit if its Terms of Reference , constraints of The Delimitation Act 2002 , Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 and keeping in view the Constitutional imperatives , the Delimitation Commission , constituted in 2020 to demarcate 90 Assembly constituencies and 5 Parliamentary Constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir U .T , has come out with a Final Report which is in public domain . Apart from what has been condensed to The Notification O.N 17 (E) Dated 5th may ,2022 as Order No .2 –Published in GOI Gazette of the same date , the Delimitation Commission – shortly Commission - has ,same day , concurrently issued a Press Note No ECI /PN/ 41 /2022. (Press Note hereinafter). So , what is contained in the Press Note could be construed a part of the Commission’s Report - though of recommendatory nature .

In the page 6 of the Press Note the Commission has made following recommendations to the Central Government and asked it to make ;

“ 1 Provision of at least two members ( one of them must be a female ) from the community of Kashmiri Migrants in the legislative Assembly and such members may be given power at par with the power of nominated members ,of the Legislative Assembly Of Union Territory of Puducherry .

2 ………………… .”

In the preceding Para of the recommendation the Commission has noted ,

“ During the public hearing , the commission received number of representations from the Kashmiri Migrants and the displaced persons from Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir .The delegations of Kashmiri Migrants represented before the commission that they were persecuted and forced to live in exile as refugees in their own country for the last three decades .It was urged that in order to preserve their political rights ,seats may be reserved for them in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Parliament ……………”

Some may argue that the Commission has identified Kashmiri Migrants and not KPs as a community which should be considered for representation in the Legislative Assembly . One has to understand that the Commission couldn’t make such a recommendations which would fly in the face Constitutional scheme that governs India . The country’s constitution doesn’t permit religion based reservations in the legislature .But the way the Commission had prefaced its recommendation no room is left to doubt which community it had in mind when it said so .Because , almost whole community of the KPs was forced to leave the Valley . True , Individuals of other communities also bore the brunt of armed militancy in Kashmir and had to move out . But law is not made for an individual though it may affect him, as well . In any case , let us leave to the other day.

Today is the occasion for appreciating what a Constitutional body like Commission has recorded vis a vis the displaced Pandits ( Kashmiri Migrants in legal parlance ). It has granted official recognition of what the KPs have been saying for the last 32 years – that they have been subjected to the persecution and need political and economic rehabilitation . The Commission has provided a solid edifice on which – with a bit of more effort – much can be build . Apart from that , having come from a Constitutional body –headed by a former Supreme Court Judge - the recommendation for two seats in the Assembly has put a stamp of approval on the law and circumstances which the community delegations put forth before it , in support of the claim of representation – reservation in the state legislature and the Parliament .

True , the job is not done ! But it has begun ,well . Lot of legislative work needs to be done to see the Commissions recommendations fructify on the ground . To begin with an amendment as follows has to effected to The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act ,2019 –No 34 0f 2019 : Act 34 shortly

In Sec 14 (6) & (7) and Section 60 (1) (a ) & (b ) add Displaced Pandits defined as “Migrant “ in Sec 2 (e) of The Jammu And Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation ,Protection And Restraint on Distress Sales ) Act ,1997

It is essential because , as of today , Act 34 works as Constitution for J & K .

It may be followed by an appropriate amendment to the Representation Of People’s Act , as is now applicable to the UT . What has been submitted before the Commission has to reiterated before the Central government with more vigor , to facilitate the required amendments to various laws , relevant to the matter . The legal and factual position like Sangha Reservation in Sikkim Assembly, the Pondicherry Model (referred by the Commission ) ,nomination for Women in the erstwhile J &K Assembly and the case of Anglo Indian’s reservation must be brought to the notice of quarters concerned .

In this regard ,Kashmiri Pandits (Recourse ,Restitution ,Rehabilitation And Resettlement )BILL 2022 , introduced to the Rajya Sabah by Vivek Tankha could be of great help to the cause .Because it has a Chapter 111 which deals with Political and Economic Rehabilitation of Pandits and in Clause 5 Sub clause ( 2 )seeks reservation for them in Legislative Assembly , Parliament and other elected bodies .

The Delimitation Commission deserves sincere gratitude for highlighting a burning issue that faces the displaced community and providing a way out ,sought by the community.

(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected])

(Disclaimer: The views, observations and opinions expressed in above write up of Scoop News are strictly author's own. Scoop News does not take any onus or liability for the veracity, accuracy, validity, completeness, suitability of any of information in the above given write up. The information, facts or figures appearing in the write up in no way manifest the position, standpoint or stance of Scoop News and the Scoop News does not assume any encumbrance or answerability of the same. All disputes are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of competent Courts and Forums in Jammu City Only)

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