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Delimitation Commission

Delimitation Commission

Introduction

  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body.
    • In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times –
    • In 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952,
    • In 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962,
    • In 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and
    • In 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census.

Why is delimitation needed?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population.
  • In this process, the number of seats allocated to different states in Lok Sabha and the total number seats in a Legislative Assembly may also change.
  • It aims at a fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
  • The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.

Delimitation commission

  • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
  • Article 82 provides the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.The Census Act (1948) provides for the permanent scheme of conducting population Census. It is carried out in a ten years interval.
  • Article 170 provides division of State into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act enacted by the Parliament 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.
  • It is usually composed of the retired Supreme Court judge, Chief Election Commissioner and Respective State Election Commissioners.

Functions

  • It identifies the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, wherever their population is relatively large.
  • It determines the number and boundaries of constituencies to make the population of all constituencies nearly equal.
  • The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.
  • In case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the opinion of the majority prevails.

Objectives

  • 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.
  • To follow the principle of “One Vote One Value”.

Current Status of the commission

  • The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 froze the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha to the states and the division of each State into territorial constituencies till the year 2000 at the 1971 level.
  • Further, the 84th Amendment Act of 2001 extended this ban on readjustment for another 25 years (i.e., upto year 2026), without affecting the total number of seats based on the 1971 census.
  • The 84th Amendment Act of 2001 also empowered the government to undertake readjustment and rationalisation of territorial constituencies in the states on the basis of the population figures of 1991 census.
  • Later, the 87th Amendment Act of 2003 provided for the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of the 2001 census and not 1991 census.

How often has delimitation been done in the past?

  • The first delimitation exercise in 1950-51 was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission), as the Constitution at that time was silent on who should undertake the division of states into Lok Sabha seats.
  • This delimitation was temporary as the Constitution mandated redrawing of boundaries after every Census. Hence, another delimitation was due after the 1951 Census. Subsequently, the Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952.

 

 

 

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