Sunday, 21 December 2014

POK to get 5 seats for the Indian Parliament

POK to get 5 seats for the Indian Parliament
BJP MP introduces bill for Lok Sabha seats in Pakistan occupied Kashmir
Rahul Tripathi  New Delhi, November 26, 2014 | UPDATED 21:38 IST
 After UPA failed to create Lok Sabha seats in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), a BJP MP has introduced a private member bill before the Parliament proposing insertion of additional clause in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2014 that will enable India to have additional five seats in Lok Sabha in PoK.

The bill mooted by BJP MP from Godda in Jharkhand, Nishikant Dubey has  been admitted before the Lok Sabha and is likely to be introduced for discussion during the ongoing winter session of the Parliament.

Speaking to INDIA TODAY, Dubey said, " Jammu and Kashmir government has reserved 24 seats for PoK which goes vacant as per the constitution of the State. As J&K is an integral part of India, the constitution of India shall also have provision where the areas of PoK is represented by MPs. These seats can remain vacant like the state assembly seats.  The lacunae in both the constitution has been going on since 1948 and it is time to rectify the same."

In his bill, Dubey has proposed to introduce Article 370 A giving powers to the people residing in PoK to elect their representative. Dubey's bill says, (i) " Five seats in the House of People shall remain vacant but such seats shall not be taken into account for reckoning the total membership of the house and (ii) the said area shall be excluded in delimiting the territorial constituencies under article 82."

In October 2013, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) during the tenure of Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has moved a similar proposal but it was nixed. Now a year later, the bill introduced by Dubey may find takers in the NDA government as officials argued that the composition of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has 24 seats reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir but are vacant as the territory is in Pakistan's control. However, these seats are not taken into account to consider the total membership of the Assembly.

Home Ministry officials said that If Dubey's proposal is taken seriously, the government will have to bring an amendment in Article 81 of the Indian constitution so as to include a provision similar to the provision in the Jammu and Kashmir constitution for keeping seats vacant for the Lok Sabha in respect of the territory illegally occupied by Pakistan. It is however not clear as to how a reference to this provision was not included in the Indian constitution and how this mismatch has occurred in the two constitutions.

It  may be recalled that Parliament has passed a resolution asserting that PoK is an integral part of India and will remain so.  Said a senior official, "It is important that we claim our right on the territory forcibly occupied by Pakistan, even if the Lok Sabha seats like Assembly remain vacant."

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