HYDERABAD: A petition moved in the Supreme Court by two residents of Jammu & Kashmir challenging the Central government’s decision to set up a delimitation commission to reorganise the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in that state, could have a direct bearing on the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
A promise of delimitation of Assembly constituencies in residuary Andhra Pradesh, and the new state of Telangana was one of the essential clauses in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014. The petition, moved in the Supreme Court, by Haji Abdul Gani Khan, and Dr Mohammad Ayub Mattoo, residents of J&K, challenged the Centre’s notification on setting up a delimitation commission for J&K saying it was unconstitutional and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Incidentally, when the issue of delimitation of Assembly seats in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh was brought up in the past, the union home ministry sought the opinion of the then Attorney General of India Mukul Rohatgi, who clearly stated that as the delimitation fell under the purview of Article 170 of the Constitution, this could not be done. Any such move could be taken up only after the first census of the population after the year 2026 is completed.
Marri Shashidhar Reddy, senior Congress party leader, and instrumental in the work resulting in the inclusion of the Assembly constituencies delimitation in the AP Reorganisation Act 2014, told Deccan Chronicle that what the Centre was trying to do in J&K was completely unconstitutional. "Two years ago, when Article 370 was abrogated, following which the J&K Reorganisation Act was enacted, it was provided in it to increase the Assembly seats from 113 to 120 in that state. Our contention is that this is unconstitutional as Article 170 is clear that any delimitation can be taken up only after the completion of the first census that comes up after 2026," he explained.
"If the Centre wants to go ahead with delimitation in J&K, then it will need to amend the Constitution and various statutory provisions with respect to setting up of a delimitation commission. And if the Centre does this, it cannot be just for J&K. Such changes must also be applicable to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh," he said.