From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Voter List
Mains level : Election reforms in Jammu and Kashmir
Kashmir Voters’ List Upgrade to include Non-Locals
Recently the J&K Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) announced that anyone “who is living ordinarily in J&K” can avail the opportunity to get enlisted as a voter in the Union Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Representation of the People Act.
Why in news?
- Many people who were not enlisted as voters in the erstwhile State of J&K are now eligible to vote after the reading down of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) was expecting an addition of 20-25 lakh new voters in the final list in J&K.
- This has created furore among the out-streamed politicians of the erstwhile state.
What did the EC announce?
- There is no need to have a domicile certificate of J&K to become a voter.
- An employee, a student, a labourer or anyone from outside who is living ordinarily in J&K can enlist his or her name in the voting list.
- Around 25 lakh new voters are expected to be enrolled in J&K, which has 76 lakh voters on the list. The projected 18-plus population of J&K was around 98 lakh.
- After the abrogation of special provisions of Article 370, the Representation of the People Act 1950 and 1951 is applicable in J&K, which allows ordinarily residing persons to get registered in the electoral rolls of J&K.
New Voters in J&K
- Armed forces posted in J&K could also register as voters and could possibly participate in the first ever Assembly polls in the youngest Union Territory (UT) of the country.
- The existing electoral roll is being mapped into the newly delimited Assembly constituencies as per the Delimitation Commission’s final order made applicable by the Union Law Ministry.
Why are electoral rolls being revised?
- The ECI is working on fresh electoral rolls in J&K after the J&K Delimitation Commission carved out seven new Assembly constituencies in the UT earlier this year.
- The Delimitation Commission has re-drawn many constituencies and fresh electoral rolls are essential to prepare the ground for any announcement of elections in J&K.
- The last Assembly elections took place long back in 2014.
- In a latest move, the ECI has decided that it will also include any person who has attained the age of 18 years on or before October 1, 2022 in the fresh electoral rolls.
- The final electoral roll would be published in November.
Why such move?
- Prior to August 5, 2019 when J&K had special constitutional powers, the Assembly electoral rolls in the State were drawn up according to the separate J&K Representation of the People Act 1957.
- Therein only permanent residents of J&K were eligible to get registered in the Assembly rolls.
- To get voting rights, Permanent Resident Certificate and domicile certificates had to be shown.
- Several lakh residents from West Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, who had migrated to J&K and were living there for decades,
- They had no voting rights in Assembly elections till August 5, 2019 but were able to vote in the parliamentary elections.
Why has the ECI announcement caused a furore?
- All pseudo liberal and fundamentalist political parties in J&K have reacted sharply to the ECI announcement.
- J&K’s main regional parties also called Gupkar parties have expressed concerns that the move will open the floodgates and turn locals into an electoral minority.
- Separatists expressed concern that there was a plan to bring 25 lakh non-locals and make them eligible to cast their votes in the next J&K elections.