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Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir

What is the provision of delimitation in Jammu and kashmir in Jammu and Kashmir reorganisation Act 2019 

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, provides for increasing the number of assembly seats in the newly formed Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir from 107 to 114.
  • Delimitation is the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province with a legislative body.

How many seats have been reserved POK 

  • While abolishing Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution, the Government of India has retained provisions related to the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, reserving 24 seats in the legislative assembly of Union Territory of J&K for PoK.
  • The J&K Constitution, enacted in 1956, had earmarked 24 seats in legislative assembly that were left vacant and not contested during state elections.

Demography in Jammu and Kashmir 

  • According to the 2011 census, the total population of Jammu Division was 53,78,538 of which Dogras are the dominant group comprising 62.55 per cent of the population.
  • Jammu has 25.93 per cent of the area and 42.89 per cent of the population.
  • Against this Kashmir Division or the intermontane valley population in 2011 was 68,88,475 with 96.40 per cent Muslims.
  • Though it has 15.73 per cent of the state’s area, it holds 54.93 per cent of the population.
  • Ladakh has 58.33 per cent of the area accounting for 2.18 per cent of the population, a mere 2,74,289 people reside there of which 46.40 per cent are Muslims, 12.11 per cent Hindus and 39.67 per cent Buddhist.

Constitutional provision w.r.t Delimitation

  • The Constitution provides for delimitation every 10 years, the next delimitation of assembly constituencies should have logically taken place in 2005.
  • However, in 2002, the Farooq Abdullah government chose to freeze delimitation until 2026 by amending the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act 1957 and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The amended Section 47(3) provided “that until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of the State and the division of the State into territorial constituencies under this sub-section”.
  • This put the contentious matter in abeyance.

What is the power of president or governor w.r.t Delimitation during emergency?

  • This is where the Governor comes in. On his intervention, this can be changed.
  • For during President’s Rule, the legislative authority is vested in the Governor.
  • The last delimitation on provisional basis was done in 1993 by Governor Jagmohan when Jammu and Kashmir was divided into 87 assembly constituencies.
  • The Governor is competent to amend Section 47 of the Constitution to delete the objectionable proviso which barred the setting up of a delimitation commission.
  • Furthermore, Section 3 of the Representation of People Act gives the Governor the mandate to constitute a delimitation commission.
  • Jammu and Kashmir has the powers to revoke the law through a Constitutional amendment with a two-third majority and ramp up the number of seats.
  • If the Governor sets up a delimitation commission, then the ball will start rolling. By fast tracking it before the elections, some sort of common ground could be found.
  • At the moment there are seven seats reserved for SC in the assembly, all in the Jammu division which haven’t been rotated since 1996 — Chamb, Domana, Ranbir Singh Pura, Samba, Hiranagar, Chenani and Ramban (separate) in Jammu, Kathua and Udhampur district, respectively.

Convention 

  • Convention says that the next delimitation can only take place after Census 2031, unless the Governor intervenes and rectifies this irregularity. In another peculiarity, the state Constitution, under Section 48, reserves 24 seats in the 111-member assembly for the area under Pakistani occupation (since 1947-48).

Current Affairs 2020

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