Understanding Delimitation in the context of Jammu and Kashmir

New Delhi: Debate on Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 underway in Lok Sabha on Aug 6, 2019. (Photo: IANS/LSTV)
Delimitation stands for the defining of the boundaries of assembly or parliamentary constituencies in a country or province governed by a legislative set up. The process of delimitation actually redraws the size and scope of the constituencies and also decides the number of seats that have to be reserved for the Scheduled castes. Delimitation process is repeated in regular intervals to ensure that the different constituencies have a similar number of votes. The process of delimitation is entrusted to a commission specially set up for this purpose. The orders of the delimitation commission cannot be questioned by the state legislative assembly, parliament or any court of law.

Delimitation in the past

Usually delimitation commissions are set up after every census following the enactment of delimitation Act by the parliament under the Article 82 of the constitution. So far, 4 delimitation acts were passed in 1952, 1962, 1972, and 2002. The existing delimitation of constituencies are the result of the delimitation act, 2002 accomplished in the same year based on the data obtained from the 2001 census.

Delimitation Act 2002

In the delimitation Act 2002, a special amendment was made to freeze the delimitation of states in the country till the census after 2026. This will mean that the status of the present constituencies will have to be maintained till the first census after 2026. This amendment was made on the following grounds. When delimitation was done according to the population, the states which achieved in population control found their number of seats reduce while the states reporting higher populations were benefited by more constituencies. Therefore only after 2026, changing the number of seats in the parliament can be considered.

Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir

Following the accession of Kashmir into India, Sheikh Abdulla’s government allotted 30 seats for the Jammu region, 43 seats for the Kashmir region and two seats for the Ladakh region. After this move, the regional disparity continued to exist with Jammu having 37 seats, Kashmir having 46 seats and Ladakh having 4 seats. Between 2005 and 2008, the Gulam Nabi Azad’s government recommended a 25% increase in the number of seats in all the three geographies. Though this process would have increased an additional of 22 constituencies in the assembly, the PDP – Congress alliance could not achieve this since it lacked majority in the assembly.

Demands for Delimitation in J&K

In 2002, the Farooq Abdullah government amended the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir leading to the freezing of delimitation till 2026. This will mean that the status quo of the constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir will remain the same till 2026 on par with the other states of India. While the need for delimitation is felt increasingly in the region now more than ever in the past, the present moves by the BJP government seeks to fulfill the long-standing demands of the people of Jammu and Kashmir so that they will get an equal representation in the parliament. Legal experts say that the Delimitation Act of 2002 can be struck down by the Governor and the decision will have to get the concurrence of the parliament within a period of six months after passing the ordinance.


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