Delimitation in UT of Jammu & Kashmir

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Context: Assembly elections in Union Territory of J&K 

News: The Union government’s invitation to 14 key political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir for a meeting with the Prime Minister in the national capital this week has led to speculation about possible scheduling of the Assembly elections 

What is delimitation and why is it needed? 

Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time.  

  • Done by: Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned before any court.  
  • Objective: 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 state. 
How often has delimitation been carried out in J&K? 
  • Basis of delimitation in J&K: Delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K, before its special status was scrapped, 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. 
  • Previous delimitations of assembly seats: 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.  
  • No delimitation after 2001 census: There was no census in the state in 1991. Also, no Delimitation Commission was set up by the state government after the 2001 census because 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. 
How J&K’s delimitation will be done now? 

After the abrogation of J&K’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. 

  • In March 2020, the government set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, which was tasked with completing delimitation in J&K in a year. 
  • The commission has been granted an year’s extension in light of the pandemic. 
Terms to know 
  • Delimitation 
  • Delimitation Commission and relevant Constitutional provisions 

SourceIndian Express 

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