J&K Delimitation Draft

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    In News

    • Recently, the Delimitation Commission proposed six additional seats for Jammu and one for Kashmir valley.

    About

    • With the proposed addition, the total Assembly constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir has risen to 90 — in Jammu, the number of seats has gone up to 43 from 37, and in Kashmir, by one seat to 47.
    • For the first time, the commission proposed reserving nine seats for Scheduled Tribes (STs) on the basis of population. 
    • Seven seats are proposed for the Scheduled Caste (SC) community.
    • An additional 24 seats are proposed to be reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

     

     

    Image Courtesy: TOI 

    Proposed Reorganisation

    • Section 60(1):
      • The J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, under Section 60(1), entrusts the Election Commission (EC) with delimiting seven additional seats for the 83-member J&K Assembly, besides deciding reservation for the SC and ST communities.
      • However, seven months after the J&K Act was passed, through an order of March 6, 2020, the Law Ministry gave this job to the three-member Delimitation Commission headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai.
    • Tale of Sections:
      • The EC concluded that the government’s order does not violate the J&K Reorganisation Act since Section 62 of that Act anyway empowers the government to establish a Delimitation Commission.
        • It further appears (from Section 62) that any readjustment in the constituencies drawn up by the EC should be taken up by a Delimitation Commission only after the first Census done after the year 2026.
      • From the first reading of Sections 60 to 64 of the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019, it appears that the initial division of the UT of J&K into Assembly seats is the job of the EC under Section 60.
    • First legal infirmity in the Law Ministry’s gazette notification of March 6, 2020:
      • Red-flagged the order for establishing a Delimitation Commission for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, and Nagaland even though a 2008 amendment to Representation of the People Act 1950 clearly states that delimitation in the four North-eastern states, when held, would fall within the EC’s remit.
      • Hence, any delimitation exercise in these states by the new Delimitation Commission would have been “declared void by the courts.
    • Of the seven additional Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory, one each has been proposed in the districts of 
      • Kathua, 
      • Samba, 
      • Rajouri, 
      • Reasi, 
      • Doda and 
      • Kishtwar in the Jammu division, and 
      • Kupwara in the Kashmir valley. 
    • Reason for an additional constituency in some districts: 
      • To balance the representation for geographical areas with inadequate communication and lack of public conveniences given their excessive remoteness or inhospitable conditions on the international border.

    Delimitation Commission

    • 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.
    • 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.

    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.

    Significance

    • 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.

    Sources: IE + TH