Rotation of seats


The State Government could now go for rotation of the reserved seats and, for the purpose, a Delimitation Commission could be set up by an Act of the Legislature and the Commission could comprise some top retired bureaucrats. It could be mandated to identify an equal number of Assembly seats i.e. 7 (other than the present ones) for reservation for Scheduled Castes in Lower House of the Legislature. The present reserved seats would then be opened for general category candidates. As per the existing guidelines, every reserved seat had to rotate after two elections. However, seven reserved seats of Jammu and Kashmir had witnessed four Assembly elections in 1996, 2002, 2008 and 2014 without being rotated. In a significant decision on political reservations, the State Government has decided to rotate seven seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, which have already witnessed two additional elections than the normal two terms prescribed for them. All seven reserved seats are presently represented by the BJP MLAs. Only Scheduled Castes have been given reservations in the State Assembly while there was no such provision for Scheduled Tribes, like some other State Assemblies. There was tremendous pressure from within the BJP on the State Government to rotate reserved seats for the next Assembly elections.Seats reserved for the SC category candidates in the present Assembly included Chhamb, Domana and RS Pura (all three in Jammu district), Chenani (Udhampur district), Hiranagar (Kathua district), Samba and Ramban. The BJP had won all seven seats in the Assembly during 2014 Assembly elections.
The State Legislature at par with the Parliament had frozen the increase in number of Assembly seats by an act of legislation in 2001. However, there was no bar on rotation of reserved seats and changing boundaries of the constituencies after the Legislature nod for setting up the Delimitation Commission. As the State has separate Constitution, it can even go for increase in number of Assembly seats by amending the Constitution provided that it has two-third majority for the purpose. The PDP-BJP Alliance has 58 seats in the Assembly plus two Nominated women seats, making it 60, which take them to two-third mark in the House of 89 (87 elected and two Nominated). They were just one seat short of two-third majority mark in the Legislative Council. All reserved seats fall in Jammu region as there was no population of SCs in Kashmir and Ladakh region. Of 87 Assembly seats, Kashmir has 47, Jammu 36 and Ladakh 4. Political reservations for the SCs are extended by through the Constitutional amendment by both Houses of the Legislature after every 10 years. In 2011, the State Legislature had passed the bill for extension of
political reservations for another 10 years i.e. till 2011.

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