Delimitation Commission of India

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Context:

The Election Commission of India initiated the delimitation process in the U.T. of Jammu & Kashmir. According to Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir would be increased from 107 to 114. The Act also specifies that delimitation will be based on the 2011 census till 2026.

Introduction: 

  • Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body.
  • Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament by law enacts a Delimitation Act after every census. After coming into force commencement of the Act, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission.

Features: 

  • This Delimitation Commission demarcates the boundaries of the Parliamentary Constituencies as per provisions of the Delimitation Act.
  • In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 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.
  • However, during The Emergency, through Forty-second Amendment the government froze the total Parliamentary and Assembly seats in each state till 2001 Census. This was done mainly due to wide discrepancies in family planning among the states and thus giving time to states with higher fertility rates to implement family planning to bring the fertility rates down
  • The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census figures under the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002.
  • The Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. Thus, the present Constituencies carved out on the basis of the 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026.
  • The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court. These orders come into force on a date to be specified by the President of India in this behalf. The copies of its orders are laid before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible therein by them.
  • Delimitation needs to be undertaken in a way as to be integrated with the development of the constituency Therefore, administrative, social and geographical dimensions need to be kept in mind. All constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them regard shall be to the physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and public convenience.
  • Under the Delimitation Act 2002, seats for the SC/STs are to be reserved in the constituencies in which the percentage of their population to the total population is the largest.
    –For Scheduled Castes, 84 seats are reserved in Lok Sabha.
    –For Scheduled Tribes, 47 seats are reserved in Lok Sabha.
  • Composition: Delimitation Commission is headed by the Chairman who is a sitting or former Judge of the Supreme Court. Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner is an ex-officio member. The DC will have the State Election Commissioner of the State concerned as another ex-officio member.
    There will also be 10 associate members in each State: five will be the Members of the Lok Sabha (representing the State) and five will be Members of the State Assembly.
    The Centre will appoint the chairperson, while the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Speakers of the State Assemblies concerned will choose the associate members.

Even though the boundaries of constituencies were altered in 2001 to equate population among the parliamentary and assembly seats; the number of Lok Sabha seats that each state has remained unaltered since 1971 census and may only be changed after 2026 as the constitution was again amended (84th amendment to Indian Constitution) in 2002 to continue the freeze on total number of seats in each state till 2026.

This was mainly done as states which had implemented family planning widely like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab would stand to lose many parliamentary seat representation and states with poor family planning programs and higher fertility rates like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan would adversely gain many of the seats transferred from better-performing states.



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