Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir
Recently delimitation exercise has started in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). Earlier,the Union government’s invitation to 14 key political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for a meeting with the Prime Minister in the national capital this week has led to speculation about possible scheduling of the Assembly elections. It is worth mentioning here that on 15th of August, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said elections would be held in J&K after the delimitation process in the Union Territory was over.
What is delimitation and why is it needed?
- Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time.
- This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned before any court.
- The objective is to redraw boundaries (based on the data of the last Census) in a way so that the population of all seats, as far as practicable, be the same throughout the State. Aside from changing the limits of a constituency, the process may result in change in the number of seats in a state.
- It is important to mention here that In 2002, the delimitation process was put on freeze till 2026 by the National Conference government.
Constitutional Provisions for Delimitation:
- It is important to note that after every census of India, a Delimitation Act is enacted by the Parliament of India under Article-82 of the Constitution. Under Article 170 the states are also divided into territorial constituencies according to the Delimitation Act after each census.
- Once the Delimitation Act comes into force, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission.
- Although the first delimitation process was done by the President (with the help of the Election Commission) in 1950-51.
- The Constitution of the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952 was enacted.
- Delimitation Commissions have been constituted four times in 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 on the basis of Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
- After the 1981 and 1991 census, the delimitation was not done.
About Delimitation Commission:
- The Delimitation Commission is constituted by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
- Composition of the Delimitation Commission:
- Retired Supreme Court Judge
- Chief Election Commissioner
- Concerned State Election Commissioner.
- On March 6, 2020, the government set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, which was tasked with winding up delimitation in J&K in a year.
- As per the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, the number of Assembly seats in J&K would increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to benefit the Jammu region.