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Election Commission to begin revising electoral rolls in J & K

  • Published
    1st Jul, 2022
Context

Election Commission (EC) has directed the election officer to complete summary revision of electoral rolls by October end for Jammu and Kashmir.

  • This delimitation exercise is going to be conducted after a gap of three years.
About

What is delimitation?

  • Delimitation is the act of fixing or redrawing the limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies (Assembly or Lok Sabha seat) in a country or a province having a legislative body, as per the Election Commission.
  • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
  • The delimitation exercise is carried out by an independent high-powered panel known as the Delimitation Commission whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned by any court.
  • Composition:
    • Retired Supreme Court judge
    • Chief Election Commissioner
    • Respective State Election Commissioners.

What were the changes made by delimitation?

  • Assembly seats: The Commission has increased seven Assembly seats — six in Jammu (now 43 seats) and one in Kashmir (now 47). It has also made massive changes in the structure of the existing Assembly seats.
  • Lok sabha seats: The Commission has redrawn the boundaries of Anantnag and Jammu seats.
    • Jammu’s Pir Panjal region, comprising Poonch and Rajouri districts and formerly part of Jammu parliamentary seat, has now been added to Anantnag seat in Kashmir.
    • Also, a Shia-dominated region of Srinagar parliamentary constituency has been transferred to Baramulla constituency, also in the Valley.
  • Kashmiri pandits: The Commission has recommended “provision of at least two members from the community of Kashmiri Migrants (Kashmiri Hindus) in the Legislative Assembly.
    • It has also recommended that Centre should consider giving representation in the J&K Legislative Assembly to the displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, who migrated to Jammu after Partition”.

Significance of revision of electoral rolls

  • The revision of electoral rolls is significant as the exercise is being carried out for the first time since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
  • Before the abrogation, only the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir, popularly known as state subjects, were eligible to vote.
  • The summary revision would also allow, for the first time, the displaced people of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to apply for voting rights in the Assembly elections.
  • In the past, they were allowed to vote in the parliamentary elections but not in the Assembly elections.

Constitutional backing for Delimitation Commission

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per Delimitation Act after every Census.
  • Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission.
    • The delimitation commission is an independent body constituted under Article 82 after the Parliament enacted a Delimitation Act after every census.
  • However, 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.
  • Delimitation Commissions had been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
    • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.
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