The Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir have always been a part of controversies for many years. Recently, when the Article 370 of the constitution of India was abrogated, it again became a huge topic of debate. Two groups of people were formed, one who supported the abrogation while the other protested against it. Since the abrogation was made, there has been no political activity. In the due course, a Delimitation Commission was set up with legislative back up which is independent of the government and political parties in its functioning. The team from the Commission took a tour of the newly defined boundaries of the Union Territories before implementing Delimitation in the regions.
Delimitation is the act of changing or redrawing of boundaries of a Lok Sabha constituency. The process is carried out in every few years to ensure that each constituency has approximately an equal number of voters to avoid any issue of unequal voting. The underlying logic in this is that every set of voters have one representative in the Lok Sabha as well as in the state assemblies across the country. Therefore, the exercise is carried out after every census.
The delimitation of J&K is a politically controversial issue since it is directly related to the representation of Muslim-dominated Kashmir and Hindu-dominated Jammu in the legislative assembly.
How is delimitation done?
Delimitation is a bureaucratic process. According to Article 82 of the Constitution, Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after Census that is held every 10 years.
- A Delimitation Commission is set up by the union government that is headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court.
- This commission examines all the data such as the population data, number of constituencies, the number of seats, holds meetings with all the stakeholders and submits its recommendation to the union government.
- The Gazette of India publishes a draft report of the Delimitation Commission. Along with the Gazette of India, the official state gazettes and a minimum of two vernacular publications publish the draft report and seek feedback from the general public.
- When feedback is received it is then examined in detail and if needed changes are made in the final report which is later published in the Gazette of India and the state gazettes.
- From the date notified after approval from the President of India, the Delimitation Commission’s final order is implemented. This becomes the basis for all future elections until the next delimitation.
Jammu vs Kashmir: the number of constituencies-
Jammu and Kashmir held last delimitation when it was under President’s Rule and saw the number of seats in its assembly increase from 76 to 87.
- Number of seats in Kashmir region increased from 42 to 46 and that from Jammu rose from 32 to 37. Ladakh got four MLAs and 24 seats were reserved for PoK.
- According to the latest 2011 Census data, Kashmir has a population of over 68 lakh and Jammu 53 lakh.
The Delimitation Commission has the challenge to address the complaint of people living in Jammu that the Kashmir region was given undue advantage by successive delimitation panels.
Delimitation is a process that is necessary for the states to avoid any discrepancies among the number of voters in different constituencies. Many mainstream political party leaders earlier boycotted the meetings of the Delimitation Commission. Now, most of them are rethinking over the issue and agree to have a discussion with the union government.
Written by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ