Context:

The delimitation commission for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has kicked off the exercise by writing to all 20 District Commissioners (DC), seeking basic demographic, topographic information as well as the local administration’s impressions of political aspirations of the district.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Initiatives and Policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Delimitation?
  2. How delimitation is carried out?
  3. Delimitation Commission
  4. Delimitation Commission Act, 2002
  5. Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019
  6. About the current Delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir

What is Delimitation?

  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.
  • Delimitation is done in order
    • to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population,
    • to facilitate Fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
    • To follow the principle of “One Vote One Value”.

How delimitation is carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission.
  • The first delimitation exercise was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission) in 1950-51.
  • The Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Delimitation Commission

  • The Delimitation commission (or Boundary commission) of India is a commission established by the Government of India under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act.
  • Hence, Delimitation Commission is a Statutory Body, based on Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.

Important Points about the Delimitation Commission:

  • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
  • The main task of the commission is redrawing the boundaries of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census.

The representation from each State is NOT CHANGED during this exercise.

  • However, the number of SC and ST seats in a state are changed in accordance with the census.
  • The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • The Commission is a powerful and independent body whose orders cannot be challenged in any court of law.
  • The orders are laid before the Lok Sabha and the respective State Legislative Assemblies. However, modifications are NOT permitted.

Delimitation Commission Act, 2002

  • An Act to provide for the readjustment of:
    • The allocation of seats in the House of the People to the States
    • The total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State
    • The division of each State and each Union territory having a Legislative Assembly into territorial constituencies for elections to the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies of the States and Union territories and for matters connected therewith.
  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country to represent changes in population.

Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 was introduced in Rajya Sabha on August 5, 2019 by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah.
  • The Bill provides for reorganisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh.
  • The Bill reorganises the state of Jammu and Kashmir into: (i) the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and (ii) the Union Territory of Ladakh without a legislature.
  • The Union Territory of Ladakh will comprise Kargil and Leh districts, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will comprise the remaining territories of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will be administered by the President, through an administrator appointed by him known as the Lieutenant Governor.
  • The Union Territory of Ladakh will be administered by the President, through a Lieutenant Governor appointed by him.
  • The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir will be the common High Court for the Union Territories of Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.  Further, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will have an Advocate General to provide legal advice to the government of the Union Territory. 
  • The Legislative Council of the state of Jammu and Kashmir will be abolished.  Upon dissolution, all Bills pending in the Council will lapse.

About the current Delimitation exercise in Jammu & Kashmir

  • The commission for delimitation in Jammu Kashmir was set up in February-March 2020 to delineate Assembly and parliamentary constituencies and given a year’s extension in March 2020.
  • It is only after the completion of the delimitation exercise that elections for the Assembly can be held, although District Development Council (DDC) polls were held in 2020 on earlier patterns and based on the 2011 census.
  • The renewed push by the Central government for talks has raised hopes not only of early Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir but also of an eventual restoration of statehood, which was taken away under the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, a reading down of Article 370 of the Constitution. For all this, the delimitation exercise, a laborious and sensitive process of carving out parliamentary and Assembly seats, has to be done.

The 2002-2008 exercise

  • The then State of Jammu and Kashmir (before reorganization) was kept out of the delimitation exercise when it was carried out in the rest of country (between 2002-2008), as delimitation of Assembly seats was under the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and its separate Representation of People Act. After becoming a Union Territory, the delimitation commission was constituted and asked to mark out Assembly and Parliament seats.

-Source: The Hindu

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