- August 24, 2021
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject – Polity
Context – The Election Commission’s (EC) former legal eagle, SK Mendiratta, has red-flagged the Union government’s order setting up a Delimitation Commission for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland, calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.
- Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats to represent changes in population.
- In this process, the number of seats allocated to a state may also change.
- The objective is to provide equal representation for equal population segments, and a fair division of geographical areas, so that no political party has an advantage.
- The Delimitation Commission’s orders cannot be questioned before any court.
- Delimitation is done on the basis of the preceding Census.
- The first such exercise in 1950-51 was carried out by the President, with the help of the Election Commission.
- Following the Delimitation Commission Act in 1952, all such exercises have been conducted by Delimitation Commissions — set up in 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002.
- There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses. This was a fallout of the provision that the ratio between the number of Lok Sabha seats in a state and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states. Although unintended, this meant that states that took little interest in population control could end up with more seats in Parliament, while the southern states that promoted family planning could end up with fewer seats. Amid these concerns, the Constitution was amended in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.
- Another amendment extended the freeze on the number of seats until 2026, by when the country was projected to achieve a uniform population growth rate. So, the last delimitation exercise between July 2002 and March 31, 2008, based on the 2001 Census, only readjusted boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of reserved seats.
In the last delimitation exercise, completed in 2008, Arunachal, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland were kept out due to apprehensions over use of the 2001 Census.
Will delimitation change the number of seats in these states?
Not in the four Northeast states. There is a freeze until 2026 on the number of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in any state. Delimitation will only redraw the boundaries of seats in each state, and can rework the number of reserved seats for SCs and STs.
However, because of exceptional past circumstances, Jammu & Kashmir’s Assembly seats will now increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to increase Jammu region’s representation.
Election Commission and Delimitation Commission
EC and Delimitation Commission are two distinct entities. The former is a permanent Constitutional authority, and the latter gets disbanded after the delimitation exercise is complete.