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Delimitation of Constituencies in J&K

Context: 

Members of the Jammu & Kashmir Delimitation Commission faced protests in Jammu as they embarked on a two-day visit to hold consultations with citizens, civil society groups and political parties.

Relevance: GS II- Governance, Representation Of People’s Act

Dimensions of this article :

  1. What is the role of the delimitation commission?
  2. Delimitation Commission Act, 2002
  3. Delimitation in J&K
  4. How many seats have been added?
  5. Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019

What is the role of the delimitation commission?

  • The delimitation commission is an independent body constituted under Article 82 after the Parliament enacted a Delimitation Act after every census.
  • Interestingly, the J&K delimitation commission has not been clear to the associate members about the census report that was made as a base to carve out new constituencies in the Union Territory (UT).

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.
Delimitation is done in order to:
  • Provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.
  • Fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
  • Follow the principle of “One Vote One Value”.
The problems with delimitation are:
  • States that take little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament. The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced.
  • In 2008, Delimitation was done based on the 2001 census, but the total number of seats in the Assemblies and Parliament decided as per the 1971 Census was not changed.
  • The constitution has also capped the number of Lok Shaba & Rajya Sabha seats to a maximum of 550 & 250 respectively and increasing populations are being represented by a single representative.

Delimitation in J&K

  • In 1963, 1973, and 1995, assembly seats in J&K were delimited.
  • Prior to August 5, 2019, the J&K Constitution and the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957 were used to carve out Assembly seats in the state.
  • Until then, the Indian Constitution governed the delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K.
  • However, the J&K Constitution and the J&K Representation of the People Act, 1957 controlled the delimitation of the state’s Assembly.
  • Because there was no census in 1991, the state did not establish a Delimitation Commission until the 2001 census.

How many seats have been added?

  • The Commission has, as per the mandate granted under the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, added seven assembly constituencies to J&K, increasing its strength from 87 to 90.
  • The interim report proposes an increase of six seats for the Jammu province, taking the number of constituencies to 43, and an increase of one seat in the Kashmir province, taking the seat strength to 47, almost bringing the two regions at par with each other.
  •  Of six seats, three assembly segments are from the Muslim-majority Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal valley, while three are in the Hindu Jammu-Samba-Kathua belt.
  • The Commission has also proposed to reserve seven seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) Hindus that mainly populate the Samba-Kathua-Jammu-Udhampur belt and nine seats for Schedule Tribes (STs) which will help Gujjar and Bakerwals, mostly non-Kashmiri speaking Muslims inhabiting the Rajouri-Poonch belt in the Jammu province.
  • Prior to the Centre’s move to end J&K’s special constitutional position on August 5, 2019, the erstwhile State had an 87-member assembly, with 37 constituencies in the Jammu region and 46 in the Kashmir division and four in Ladakh .
  •  Besides, 24 seats are reserved and vacant for Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

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.
  • 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. 

-Source: The Hindu

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