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Assam Delimitation

Context:

The new year has started with the Election Commission kicking off the process of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Assam. The most-recent delimitation exercise, that of Jammu and Kashmir, took a little over two years to complete.

Relevance:

Polity and governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Importance of delimitation
  2. Why is delimitation being done in Assam alone?
  3. Why is EC and not an independent Delimitation Commission?
  4. Why is the 2001 Census being used?

Importance of delimitation

  • Boundaries of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies are required to be updated from time to time to ensure that the population size in each seat is roughly the same.
  • The basic principle is that one vote should have the same value, irrespective of the constituency.
  • Apart from population, geographical features, boundaries of administrative units and connectivity are also considered.

Why is delimitation being done in Assam alone?

  • The Constitution says boundaries of Assembly constituencies should be updated after every decadal Census, but through amendments in 1976 and 2001, the process of delimitation was put off for 25 years each time.
    • So far, delimitation for the whole country has been carried out four times — under Delimitation Acts in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002 — and remains in abeyance till 2026.
  • During the last delimitation, which was completed in 2008, the government decided to leave out Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland, as well as Jammu and Kashmir.
  • For Assam, the government cited security concerns and the potential for disturbing law and order, among others, when it put off the exercise through an order on February 8, 2008.

Why is EC and not an independent Delimitation Commission?

  • The Election Commission is empowered to carry out delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, as per Section-8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950.
    • The section says “if the President is satisfied that the situation and the conditions prevailing” in the states are conducive for conducting delimitation, then he or she may rescind the deferment order.
  • An order under the same section was issued by the President on February 28, 2020, saying that there had been “a significant improvement in the security situation”, allowing for the delimitation exercise in all four of the states.
Why is the 2001 Census being used?
  • According to Article 170 of the Constitution, the population numbers to be used for drawing boundaries of constituencies would be as per the 2001 Census until the first Census after 2026 is published.
  • In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 passed by Parliament had mentioned the population in the 2011 Census as the basis of delimitation.

-Source:  Indian Express


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