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Delimitation in the J&K

  • Category
    Environment
  • Published
    6th Jul, 2021

The prospects of rising political activity in J & K are rising, which give way to the formation of delimitation commission in the state.

Context

The prospects of rising political activity in J & K are rising, which give way to the formation of delimitation commission in the state.

About

About the Delimitation Commission:

  • After every census, Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act under Article 82 of the Constitution.
  • Under this act, a high-powered body known as the Delimitation Commission is constituted.
  • It carries out the process of demarcation of constituency boundaries.
  • The orders of this commission are legally binding and not subject to the scrutiny of any court of law.
  • Even Parliament cannot suggest modifications to an order issued by the commission.
  • The commission is a temporary body with no full-fledged staff of its own.
  • It relies on EC employees to carry out the long-drawn exercise.
  • Census data for each district, tehsil and gram panchayat is collected, and the new boundaries are demarcated.
  • The exercise can take up to five years.
  • Structure of Delimitation Commission: The commission consists of
    • A chairman — a retired or sitting judge of the Supreme Court
    • The chief election commissioner or any of the two election commissioners
    • The election commissioner of the state in which the exercise is being carried out.
    • In addition, five MPs and five MLAs of the state are chosen as associate members of the commission.

What is the process of Delimitation?

  • Delimitation refers to the process of demarcation of the boundaries of parliamentary or assembly constituencies.
  • The process is carried out by delimitation commission every few years to ensure that each constituency has approximately an equal number of voters.

Delimitation Commission for J&K

  • The government set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai.
  • Delimitation in J&K has followed a slightly different trajectory than in the rest of the country, due to the special status it was accorded under Article 370.
  • The delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India.
  • On the other hand, the state’s Assembly seats was governed by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and by the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.
  • The last time a delimitation exercise was conducted in J&K was under President’s Rule in 1995 by the retired Justice K.K. Gupta’s Commission.
  • The next exercise was due in 2005, but in 2002, the Farooq Abdullah government chose to freeze delimitation until 2026 by amending the Jammu & Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957, and Section 47(3) of the Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir.

A delimitation commission was first constituted for J&K in 1952. Subsequently, they were constituted in 1963, 1973 and 2002. 

How the freezing of delimitation is contentious?

  • It is argued that the freeze enforced in 2002 has led to poorer representation for Jammu
  • The delimitation of J&K is a politically volatile issue since it is directly related to the representation of Muslim-dominated Kashmir and Hindu-dominated Jammu in the legislative assembly. 
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