Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Panel

    0
    182

    Context

    • Members of Parliament of the Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference (NC) are likely to attend the next meeting of the Delimitation Commission scheduled on December 20.

    Background 

    • The Jammu and Kashmir Delimitation Commission has said that it will base its final report on the 2011 Census and will also take into account the topography, difficult terrain, means of communication and convenience available for the ongoing delimitation exercise.
    • The commission is mandated to carve out seven additional seats for the 83-member Assembly of the Union Territory (UT).

    About Delimitation Exercises 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, the 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 and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and 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) 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 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 freeze, some political parties argue, has created inequity for the Jammu region.
    • Commission set up in 2020
      • In March 2020, the Delimitation Commission was constituted to the Union Territory.
      • Mandate 
        • The Commission has been mandated to delimit the constituencies of the Union Territory in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and Delimitation Act, 2002, by the Union Ministry for Law and Justice on March 6 2020.
      • Composition :
        • It is headed by Justice (retired) Ranjana Desai.
        • The commission has five MPs from Jammu and Kashmir as associate members.
        • Their recommendations are, however, not binding on the commission, which is in Jammu and Kashmir to gather ground-level information about the ongoing process.

    Present status 

    • The Commission was tasked to finish delimitation in a year, on March 4 2021, it was granted a year’s extension.
    • This was done at the request of the panel members since it couldn’t make much progress due to the Covid-19-induced shutdown across the country. 
    • In June 2021, the Election Commission wrote to Deputy Commissioners of all 20 districts in J&K seeking fresh information on several aspects including population density and topography in all the districts and Assembly constituencies. 
    • The commission has also sought feedback regarding each representation it has received to evaluate its implementation.

    Why does J&K need delimitation?

    • The enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 has altered the number of constituencies, the boundaries of the existing constituencies need to be redrawn.
    • Delimitation is crucial for starting the political process in J&K that would eventually lead to elections.
    • It will 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 a change in the number of seats in a state.

    What is Delimitation?

    • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies to represent changes in population and is done on the basis of the preceding Census.
    • This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned before any court. 
    • Constitutional provisions:
    • Article 82: This provides the Parliament with the authority to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census.
    • Article 170: This provides for the  States to get divided into territorial constituencies as per the Delimitation Act after every Census.
      • The Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission once the Act is in force.
    • Objective: To provide equal representation for equal population segments and a fair division of geographical areas so that no political party has an advantage

    Delimitation Commission

    • It is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
    • Its members are a serving or retired Supreme Court judge, Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner nominated by CEC and Election Commissioners of the respective state.
    • Its function is to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies, to identify seats reserved for SC/ST.
    • It is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.
    • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.

    Source: IE