SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday granted two weeks time to Indian ministry of home affairs to explain as to why the election has not been conducted in the Anantnag parliamentary constituency. The constituency is vacant for a period of more than a year.
A single bench of Justice Tashi Rabstan sought the response within two weeks after Assistant Solicitor General of India (ASGI) Tahir Majid Shamsi sought more time for filing reply. He said that the home affairs ministry’s reply was very important.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Ghulam Mohammad Wani of Pulwama, who was one of the contestants for the by-poll before it was rescinded by the ECI due to law and order situation in south Kashmir.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who had won the Lok Sabha seat from Anantnag in 2014 resigned in 2015 and subsequently the seat was notified through Election Commission of India (ECI) for elections in March, 2017. But after escalation in incidents of violence across Kashmir and low turnout during the parliamentary elections for the Srinagar constituency on April 9, the scheduled election for 3- Anantnag was deferred. The election for Anantnag was scheduled for April 12. After deferring, the said election was scheduled to be held on 25 May 2017.
According to petition, on April 18, delegation of J&K Pradesh Congress Committee and National Conference expressed concern over the deterioration of situation in Kashmir in the aftermath of killing of eight people on polling day in Budgam constituency and expressed apprehensions that holding election in Anantnag Constituency will further escalate the situation.
In this backdrop, the election commission asked for ground report from state Administration whether it was viable to hold elections this time or not. In its response Chief Secretary informed the ECI that a number of incidents have taken place where attacks on buildings and polling staff were reported and the state government was of the opinion that the time was not conducive for taking up elections in Anantnag Parliamentary constituency. After passing of two more months the election commission didn’t hold election in the constituency which led the petitioner Ghulam Mohammad Wani to file a petition challenging the state to conduct the parliamentary by-elections.
The petition reads that sizeable population is being denied their basic right of participation in democracy and is denying the petitioner his right to contest in the elections.