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Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir

Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir

Why in news?

  • Recently, the delimitation exercise has started in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).
  • The completion of the delimitation exercise will mark the political process in the Union Territory (UT) that has been under Centre’s rule since June 2018.
  • After the abrogation of its special status under Article 370, on 5th August, 2019, a special delimitation commission was constituted in March, 2020 to carve out Assembly and Parliament seats in the UT.

What is Delimitation?

  • 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.
  • This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned before any court.
  • 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.                                    Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir
  • 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.                                Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir

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”.

Delimitation and J&K

  • Delimitation exercises in J&K in the past have been slightly different from those in the rest of the country because of the region’s special status — which was scrapped by the Centre in August 2019.
  • Until then, the delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India, but the delimitation of the state’s Assembly was governed by the J&K Constitution and J&K Representation of the People Act, 1957.                              Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995.
  • The last exercise was conducted by the Justice (retired) K K Gupta Commission when the state was under President’s Rule and was based on the 1981 census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996.
  • There was no census in the state in 1991 and no Delimitation Commission was set up by the state government after the 2001 census as the J&K Assembly passed a law putting a freeze until 2026.

 

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