What is Delimitation?
- According to the Election Commission, the word ‘delimitation’ is defined as “the act or process of fixing limits/boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body”.
- In the Indian context, the exercise of redrawing the boundaries of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly Constituencies in a region is known as delimitation.
- In this process, the number of seats allocated to a particular state/UT in Lok Sabha or the Legislative Assembly may vary.
- For example – Delhi, a union territory with a legislative assembly, has 7 Lok Sabha constituencies while the Legislative Assembly has 70 constituencies.
Why is it needed?
- Delimitation helps in redrawing the boundaries (based on the data of the last Census) in such a way that the population of all the constituencies, as far as practicable, remains equal throughout the State/UT.
- It ensures a fair division of geographical areas so that all political parties or candidates contesting elections have a level playing field in terms of the number of voters.
What are the Constitutional Provisions regarding delimitation in India?
- Article 82 and Article 170 of the Constitution empower the Parliament to readjust the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of States respectively, after every census.
- Accordingly, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Commission Act, and an independent high-powered panel known as the Delimitation Commission is constituted to carry out the exercise of delimitation.
- The Parliament enacted the Delimitation Commission Acts in 1952, 1962, 1972, and 2002 for this purpose.
- There was no Delimitation Commission Act after the 1981 and 1991 censuses.
- The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census data under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002.
- The next Delimitation Commission will be set up after 2026.
- Further, Article 330 and Article 332 of the Constitution provide for re-fixing the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of the states, on the basis of the 2001 census.
What is the Delimitation Commission?
- The Delimitation Commission is a high-powered committee entrusted with the task of drawing and redrawing of boundaries of different constituencies for state assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
- It is appointed by the President and works in collaboration with the Election Commission.
- The Commission consists of –
- A retired or working Supreme Court Judge (chairperson)
- Election Commissioner
- Concerned State Election Commissioners
- The Commission’s orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.
- The Commission’s orders are laid before the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies concerned, but they cannot effect any modifications in the orders.
Delimitation in J&K
- Delimitation became necessary when the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 increased the number of seats in the Assembly.
- The erstwhile J&K state had 111 seats — 46 in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu, and 4 in Ladakh — plus 24 seats reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
- In the erstwhile state, the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies was governed by the Constitution of India and that of Assembly seats was carried out by the then-state government under the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.
- After the abrogation of J&K’s special status in 2019, the delimitation of both Assembly and parliamentary seats is governed by the Constitution.
- The Delimitation Commission was set up on 6th March 2020.
- It was headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, it has the Chief Election Commissioner and J&K’s Chief Electoral Officer as members, and J&K’s five MPs as associate members.
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