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Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir

What is Delimitation?

Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time. This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be question before any court.

Article 82 of the Constitution of India empowers the parliament to readjust, after the completion of each census the seats allotted to the Lok Sabha and division of each State into territorial constituencies.

The objective is to redraw boundaries (based on the date 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 state.

Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir (History)

Delimitation exercise in Jammu and Kashmir in the past has been slightly different from those in the rest of the country because of the region's special status that was scrapped by the Centre in August 2019. Until then, delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in Jammu and Kashmir was governed by the Constitution of India. But the delimitation of the states Assembly seats was governed by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.

Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995. The last exercise was conducted by the Justice KK 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 Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a law putting a freeze on the fresh delimitation of seats until 2026. This freeze was upheld by the Supreme Court.

All about Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission

The Delimitation Commission is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called into question before any court, according to the Election Commission of India rules.

On March 6, 2020, the government set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired SC Judge Ranjana Prakash Desai comprising two other members, Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner; and KK Sharma, State Election Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir; was set up in February-March 2020 to redraw assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir. Five members of Parliament from Jammu and Kashmir were its associate members.

They were tasked to wind up delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir within a year.

Glimpse of Final Report released by Delimitation Commission

Before Jammu and Kashmir split into Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh it had 111 seats among this 87 seats are there in state and remaining 24 in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. After the Ladakh was split, 4 seats from state were reduced now state had 83 seats, separately Jammu had 37 seats while Kashmir had 46 seats.

Now after delimitation the number of seats increased to 90, an increase of 7 seats keeping in view the provisions of Section 9(1) (a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Section 60(2) (b) of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.

The seats increased are disproportionately in favor of the Jammu region. Jammu has been given 6 seats while Kashmir has been given 1 new seats. Now in total Jammu will have 43 seats whereas Kashmir will have 47 seats.

Brief of Delimitation Commision's report

Before Delimitation:
44% of population occupying 45% of seats in Jammu while 56% of population occupying 55% of seats in Kashmir.

After Delimitation:
44% of population occupying 48% of seats in Jammu while 56% of population occupying only 52% seats in Kashmir.

Various Allegations Made On Final Report

It is alleged that if the suggestions made by delimitation commission in its final report implemented it will going to benefit the ruling government. As more number of seats were given to the Jammu region inspite of having less population because it is Hindu majority region they are trying to promote Hindutva by backing RSS which ultimately going to favor BJP.

The idea was to create more seats in the Jammu division so as to bring the region at par with the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region. It was also alleged that the ruling government removed Article 370 in order to have the extension of its ruling tenure.

Conclusion
After the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status in 2019, delimitation of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the newly created Union Territory would be as per the provisions of the Indian Constitution.

One of the most important consequence of the completion of the delimitation exercise would be restoration of the political process and eventually assembly polls.


Award Winning Article Is Written By: Ms.Prerna - Lloyd Law College
Awarded certificate of Excellence
Authentication No: MA214883557101-28-0522

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