What is delimitation and why is it needed?
Delimitation is the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of
territorial constituencies in a country or a province (State or Union Territory)
having a legislative body. or an act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time. The process may
also entail a change in the number of Lok Sabha seats allotted to different
States, as well as in the number of Legislative Assembly seats for each State.
This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the
force of law. The objective is to redraw boundaries (based on the data of the
last Census) in a way so that the population of all seats, as far as
practicable, be the same throughout the State. Aside from changing the limits of
a Constituency, the process may result in change in the number of seats in a
In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted four times -- in
1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation
Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under
Delimitation Act, 2002," according to the EC Website.
To carry out the exercise in Jammu & Kashmir in the aftermath of its special
status revocation, a Delimitation Commission was set up on 06th March, 2020. The
Commission is headed by Justice (Retd.) Ranjana Prakash Desai, and includes an
Election Commissioner along-with the State Election Commissioner, as well as
five associate members for J&K.
Despite a freeze brought in by the Government of then Chief Minister Farooq
Abdullah both in the State Assembly as well as in the Supreme Court in 2002 on
such process till 2026, the J&K Delimitation Commission came into existence and
is mandated to delimit the constituencies of the Union Territory in accordance
with the provisions of Part V of the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019
(34 of 2019) and the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002 (33 of 2002).
How often has delimitation been carried out in J&K?
Delimitation exercises in J&K in the past have been slightly different from
those in the rest of the country because of the region's special status — which
was scrapped by the Centre in August 2019. Until then, delimitation of Lok Sabha
seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India, but the delimitation of
the State's Assembly seats was governed by the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution and
Jammu & Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.
Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995. The last exercise
was conducted by the Justice (Retired) K. K. Gupta Commission when the State was
under President's Rule and was based on the 1981 Census, which formed the basis
of the State elections in 1996.
There was no Census in the State in 1991 and no
Delimitation Commission was set up by the State Government after the 2001 Census
as the J&K Assembly passed a law putting a freeze on the fresh delimitation of
seats until 2026. This freeze was upheld by the Supreme Court. The J&K Assembly,
at that time, had 87 seats — 46 in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and 4 in Ladakh.
Twenty-four more seats are reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The freeze,
some political parties argue, has created inequity for Jammu region.
The tale of Kashmir's total domination over the State's politics and economy
began in 1951 when Valley-Centric Wazir-e-Azam, Sheikh Abdullah, de-linked Jammu
& Kashmir from the Census operations conducted that year throughout the country,
ignored the 1941 Census Report as well as the sea change undergone in the
State's demographic landscape owing to the migration of over one lakh Hindus &
Sikhs from the Pakistan-Occupied-Jammu & Kashmir as also the migration of Hindus
& Sikhs from Kashmir to Jammu and delimited the Constituencies for the
Legislative Assembly in an irrational manner. All this was done to give 43 seats
to Kashmir-which had a land area of 15, 953 Sq. km. (15.73%) and less than
half of the State's population, 30 to Jammu with an area of 26, 293 Sq. km.
(25.93%) and the population more than Kashmir and a paltry 2 to the
Trans-Himalayan Ladakh with a land area of 59, 146 Sq. km. (58.3%) in a House of
The remaining 25 seats remained reserved for the people of PoJK as per
Section 47 of the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution. Jammu did protest against this
undemocratic machination, but with no result.
As per the 1961 Census, Jammu's population was 16 lakh and that of Kashmir 18
lakh. But the Valley leadership contrived to retain 12 seats more than those of
Jammu which obviously meant that just 2 lakh Kashmiris were given the right to
elect 12 legislators.
This excessive share of representation given to Kashmir,
as also the unjust and humiliating distinctions made between them and non-Kashmiris
was enough to exasperate Jammu which launched a struggle demanding that the
position of the people of Jammu in the structure of the Government commensurate
with their numerical strength. But nothing came out. The Delimitation
Commission, on its part, did try to placate Jammu when in 1966 it offered one
seat in the form of a crumb (Report of Delimitation Commission, 1966).
The Census of 1973 had put the Valley's population at 24, 35, 701 and that of
Jammu at 20, 75, 640. But the Third Jammu & Kashmir Delimitation Commission,
like the earlier Delimitation Commissions, violated the Representation of
Peoples Act and allowed the people of Kashmir to elect 42 representatives to the
Legislative Assembly @ one per 57, 992 persons, while the people of Jammu were
empowered to return 31 legislators @ one per 66, 956 persons, provoking furore
as the people of Jammu construed the recommendations of the Delimitation
Commission as an affront to their self-respect, as also as an onslaught on
That even the 1981 Census, which had put Jammu's population at 27, 18, 113 and
that of Kashmir at 31, 34, 904, didn't bring any relief to the former. It
returned 32 Legislators during the 1983 and 1987 Assembly Elections at the rate
of one per 84, 941 persons. On the contrary, Kashmir elected 42 Legislators
during these elections @ one per 74, 640 persons.
Sheikh Abdullah did appoint a Commission in 1981 with Justice Janaki Nath Wazir
as its Chairman to redraw the boundaries of the Assembly segments, who passed
away in 1983. Thereafter, the task of delimiting the Constituencies devolved
upon Justice Mian Jalal-ud-Din, who functioned as the Chairman of the
Delimitation Commission till September 1991.
For, the Delimitation Commission once again ignored the criteria laid down by
the Representation of the Peoples Act and recommended 46 seats for Kashmir –
which had a highly developed communication system and a population equal to
Jammu - 37 for Jammu – which had a large number of far-flung areas with
extremely difficult terrain and poor and inadequate road facilities – and four
for Cold-Desert Ladakh.
The State Government accepted these recommendations and
issued a Notification to this effect on April 04, 1991. All this happened during
President Rule. (Between January 19, 1990, and October 09, 1996, Jammu & Kashmir
remained under the Governor's Rule and President's Rule.)
Enraged, the people of Jammu launched a struggle to seek withdrawal of the April
04, 1991 Notification and compel the authorities to redraw the Assembly
Constituencies de-novo strictly in accordance with the requirements of the
Representation of the Peoples Act. This movement was so strong that the State
Government had to yield and request the Delimitation Commission to review its
The Delimitation Commission, in the words of none other than Justice K.
K. Gupta did acknowledge that:
Jammu deserved seven of the eleven newly-created
seats on the basis of population alone. But the Delimitation Commission could
make no alteration in its report owing to the stiff opposition of the
non-official members like Jamaat-e-Islami legislator Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the
National Conference legislators like Ata Ullah Suhrawardy, and an independent
The controversy between the official and non-official members, it is believed,
led to the resignation of Justice Jalal-ud-Din in September 1991 and the
appointment of Justice K. K. Gupta as Chairman of the Delimitation Commission.
Justice Gupta also, like Justice Jalal-ud-Din, failed to dispense Justice to the
people of Jammu owing to the adamancy of the non-official members from the
Valley and in his helplessness submitted the Justice Jalal-ud-Din Report on
September 05, 1992, in original shape.
It was under these circumstances that the people of Jammu denounced the
Delimitation Commission's Report as highly irrational and politically
motivated and organized a massive 48-hour bandh on October 28 and 29, 1992. The
Chief Election Commissioner of India, T. N. Seshan, was more severe in his
criticism of the report. In fact, he dismissed it as a deceitful, fraudulent
document, a fraud on the Constitution and declared the Delimitation Commission's
recommendations null and void.
So much so, he told the State Governor, General
K. V. Krishna Rao, that it is a waste of time to argue with him and that:
correspondence from the State (J&K) relating to election issue will be ignored.
Besides, he wrote to Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao that unless the
delimitation is started de-novo and completed, no election whatsoever will be
possible to the Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly.
The criticism of the people of Jammu against the Delimitation Commission's
Report and Seshan's view compelled the State Government to ask Justice K. K.
Gupta to start the delimitation afresh. He started his work in August 1994 and
submitted his Report on April 27, 1995, but without affecting any modification
whatsoever for reasons best known to him.
The State Government accepted his
report in its entirety the same day (The Jammu & Kashmir Government Gazette
(Extraordinary), April 27, 1995). Surprisingly, Seshan also accepted the report,
saying that Justice K. K. Gupta report is well-balanced and flawless.
change in attitude on his part dumb-founded the people of Jammu and the Assembly
Elections in Jammu & Kashmir were held in September 1996 as per the
recommendations of Justice K. K. Gupta.
It may sound ludicrous, but it is hard fact that even Justice K. K. Gupta had
admitted that gross injustice has been done to Jammu and that he strongly
urged the State Government on April 27, 1995, to approach the President of India
and get the Jammu & Kashmir Constitution amended to increase the share of Jammu
from 37 to at least 40 seats. All this suggests that Kashmir has an excessive
and unfairly preponderant share of representation both in the Jammu & Kashmir
Legislative Assembly since 1951 and the Lok Sabha since 1967.
Why does the J&K Delimitation exercise is deceitful, fraudulent?
Under the Jammu & Kashmir Re-organization Act, 2019, based on 2011 Census, the
number of constituencies in the Union Territory are to be raised from 107 to
114. But this also takes into account the 24 seats falling under
Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK). Excluding these 24, the effective strength of
the Assembly would become 90 as compared to 83 earlier.
Delimitation on the basis of Census 2011 conducted in the erstwhile State of
Jammu & Kashmir is the latest policy flaw from the Central Government. There is
enough evidence that Censuses in Jammu & Kashmir State have been ridden
with fraudulent processes since 1961, and the Census of 2011 surmounts them all.
These manipulated Censuses have had direct impact on Jammu Region leading to the
subjugation of its Hindu population.
According to the 2011 Census, the average population growth of Jammu Province
which was 31 per cent between 1971 and 2001 dropped to 21 per cent in 2011. Due
to migration within and outside the state on account of Hindu and Sikh genocide
in Kashmir, the percentage growth in Kashmir's population should have been lower
but it grew by 26 per cent post 1991. This is as per official data, fudged
The fraud and fudged Census in J&K has always been a conspiracy against Jammu
hatched by the successive Central Governments in active connivance with the
Kashmiri power centres and it was only because of the fudged Census that
Kashmir's population was falsely shown to have increased by 14, 11, 000 in 10
years from 2001 to 2011 whereas the average population growth of Jammu Province
which was 31 percent between 1971- 2001 dropped to 21 percent in 2011.
migration within and outside the State on account of Hindu and Sikh genocide in
Kashmir, the percentage growth in Kashmir's population should have been lower
but it grew by 26 percent post 1991; and population of Muslims as a percentage
of total population increased by 4.12 percent whilst that of Hindus and Sikhs
fell by 4.27 percent.
The decision of Government of India to conduct new delimitation of Legislative
Constituencies on the basis of fraudulent 2011 Census is a betrayal of national
interests in J&K. It is a naked conspiracy to defeat the very purpose of
neutralization of Article 370 of Constitution of India and reorganizing the
erstwhile State into two Union Territories. Delimitation on the basis of 2011
Census will only consolidate Muslim hegemony and perpetuate Jammu & Kashmir as a
Muslim Domain apart from rest of India. That conducting delimitation of
Assembly/ Parliamentary Constituencies on the basis of Census 2011 is the surest
way to once again sell out Jammu and keep it hostage to fundamentalist Kashmiri
It would be only appropriate if the Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies in
Jammu Province are redrawn on the basis of the criteria laid down in the
Representation of the Peoples Act as well as on the basis of latest population
in Jammu Province and Kashmir. Jammu would get at least 50 seats out of 90
territorial Constituencies into which the UT of Jammu & Kashmir will be divided
by the new Delimitation Commission headed by Retired Supreme Court Judge Ranjana
Jammu & Kashmir is under President's Rule and the Union Government is
competent to administer Justice to Jammu by conceding their 71-year-old genuine
demand seeking proper representation in both Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly.
To delimit the Constituencies on the basis of the 2011 fudged Census figures
would be only to once again perpetrate gross injustice on the people of Jammu
Written By: Dinesh Singh Chauhan, Advocate - J&K High Court of
Email: [email protected], [email protected]