The Delimitation Of J & K: Introduction
- After a long period of two years, the process of delimiting the assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir has finally come to an end.
- The Delimitation Commission was entrusted with the work of delimiting the Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of 2011 Census and in accordance with the provisions of Part-V of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002.
- On 5 May 2022, the Delimitation Commission, assigned with the responsibility of redrawing the assembly and parliamentary constituencies in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), published its final report.
The Delimitation Of J & K: What is a Delimitation Exercise?
- Delimitation is an apportionment of electoral constituencies aimed at securing representational parity between different member constituencies of a democracy.
- It is supposed to be a periodic exercise conducted at regular intervals to ensure equitable representation of different population groups within a legislative body.
- The Delimitation Commission in J&k was constituted by the Govt. of India, in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 of Delimitation Act, 2002 (33 of 2002), for the purpose of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
The Delimitation Of J & K: Constitutional Provisions for Delimitation Exercise
- In India, according to Article 82 of the Constitution, “readjustment” of electoral constituencies had to be a decennial exercise to be conducted after the publication of the national census data.
- Accordingly, three delimitation exercises were conducted in 1952, 1962, and 1972.
- The Constitution also authorised Parliament, through Article 327, Consequently, Parliament enacted the Delimitation Acts of 1952, 1962 and 1972, which was finally replaced by the Delimitation Act of 2002.
The Delimitation Of J & K: History of Delimitation Exercises in J&k
- The delimitation in J&K earlier was different for assembly and parliamentary seats, on account of the special status enjoyed by the erstwhile state.
- The delimitation of parliamentary seats was done under central laws but assembly seats were redrawn under the purview of the state constitution and the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of Peoples Act enacted in 1957.
- Under the said structure, the delimitation of assembly seats in J&K was done in 1957, 1966, 1975 and 1995.
- Hence, the latest delimitation of J&K was the first delimitation of assembly seats in J&K to be done under the provisions of central laws, the Central Delimitation Act of 2022, in consonance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019.
The Delimitation Of J & K: How J&k Reorganisation Act 2009 paved the way for Delimitation?
- The commission was set up under the terms of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act of 2019, which divided the erstwhile state of J&K into two successor union territories, after the withdrawal of the special status enjoyed by the erstwhile state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
- While the union territory of Ladakh, which emerged out of the bifurcation, was not provided with a legislature, the residual union territory of J&K was provided with a legislature, à la the union territory of Puducherry (Ministry of Law and Justice 2019: Section 13).
- The Reorganisation Act stipulated a process of delimitation of the constituencies of the region, and the central government repeatedly called such an exercise imperative for the resumption of the electoral process in the region.
The Delimitation Of J & K: Know about the J&k Delimitation Commission
- The J&k Delimitation commission was set up through an official gazette notification published on 6 March 2020. The commission was set up under the chairpersonship of Justice (retired) Ranjana Prakash Desai, a former judge of the Supreme Court of India.
- The election commissioner of the Election Commission of India, Sushil Chandra, who went on to become the chief election commissioner, was appointed as the first ex officio member of the commission.
- The second ex officio member was the state election commissioner, K K Sharma.
- Furthermore, the five parliamentarians, members of the Lok Sabha (the lower house), from the erstwhile state of J&K, Farooq Abdullah, Hasnain Masoodi, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Jugal Kishore Sharma, and Jitendra Singh were the associate members of the commission.
- Notably, associate members do not have any voting rights under law and their objections are not binding on the commission.
- The commission was initially set up for a period of one year but was given a cumulative extension of 14 months under subsequent gazette notifications.
The Delimitation Of J & K: Key Recommendations
As per the final Delimitation Order, the following will come into effect from the date to be notified by the Central Government:
- Out of the 90 Assembly Constituencies in the region, 43 will be part of Jammu region and 47 for Kashmir region keeping in view the provisions of Section 9(1)(a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Section 60(2)(b) of Jammu & Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.
- After consultation with Associate Members, representatives of political parties, citizens, civil society groups, 9ACs have been reserved for STs, out of which,6 are in Jammu region and 3 ACs in the Valley.
- There are five Parliamentary Constituencies in the region. The Delimitation Commission has seen the Jammu & Kashmir region as one single Union Territory.
- Therefore, one of the Parliamentary Constituency has been carved out combining Anantnag region in the Valley and Rajouri & Poonch of Jammu region.
- By this reorganisation each Parliamentary Constituency will have equal number of 18 Assembly Constituencies each.
- Names of some ACs have also been changed keeping in view the demand of local representatives.