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SC rejects plea seeking earmarking of PoK, Gilgit as LS seats

New Delhi

01-July-2019

A public interest litigation (PIL) by a former RAW official seeking a direction to the government to denote Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit as constituencies of the Lok Sabha, was dismissed by the Supreme Court which imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on him.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, said the petition filed by Ram Kumar Yadav was legally untenable.

"You come to the judiciary with such a prayer? There cannot be any judicial interference here. We cannot pass such orders," the bench said.

The petitioner said that as many as 24 constituencies in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly have been earmarked for PoK and Gilgit, territories under the occupation of Pakistan.

The petitioner requested the court that on the lines of the Assembly seats, the central government be directed to earmark two seats in the Lok Sabha -- Muzaffarabad (capital of PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan, parts of Northern Areas, which are directly controlled by the government in Islamabad.

The 111-member Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has always functioned with 87 legislators.

The petitioner said he had made a representation in this regard to the government but since no decision was taken by the government till date on his plea, he approached the top court.

"That since, both (so-called) 'Azad Kashmir' and Gilgit-Baltistan were part of the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir territory, India should bring these regions under its Constitutional obligation like the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution, administrating it incognito with 24 MLAs," he said.

"The distribution of powers between the Union and the State of Jammu & Kashmir reflects that matters of national importance, in which a uniform policy is desirable, is retained with the Union of India, and matters of local concern remain with the state of Jammu and Kashmir," said the plea.

It further stated that permanent residents of the state of Jammu and Kashmir are citizens of India and that there is no dual citizenship as is contemplated by some other federal Constitutions in other parts of the world.

"Residents of Jammu and Kashmir do not constitute a separate and distinct class in themselves," the petitioner contended.

He said the political situation in Pakistan is unpredictable and it would certainly disintegrate sooner or later.

"...in view of the adversaries on our borders, there is every likelihood that the area of Kashmir which is under the occupation of Pakistan would return to Indian fold," the plea read.

"We should create a Constitutional disposition for this area to be part of Indian Constitution so that even if we are not alive, we can leave a Constitutional legacy for our future generations who could portray it as integral part of India."

These 24 seats are kept vacant and not taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the Assembly because this area is under illegal possession of Pakistan and elections in Jammu and Kashmir are held on the remaining 87 seats, the plea said.

He said his demand was not from his imagination and cited two bills introduced in this regard in Parliament in 2013 and 2014, which were later dropped. IANS