The government on Friday constituted a Delimitation Commission to redraw Lok Sabha and Assembly Constituencies of the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
According to the reports, the Delimitation Commission to be headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, a law ministry notification said. Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and state election commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir and the four states will be the ex-officio members, it said.
The appointment of Justice Desai will be for a period of one year or till further orders, whichever is earlier, the notification said.
Delimitation is the process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province with a legislative body. The new delimitation will enable the process of redrawing the Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the four northeastern states.
“The Commission will delimit the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, and of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland in accordance with the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002, the notification said.
The last delimitation across the country was conducted in 2002, but these states were left out due to various reasons. In the four states of North East India, delimitation could not be carried out along with other Indian states due to prevailing security reasons. But now, the government thinks the situation has changed.
The delimitation in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir comes nine months after the controversial Article 370 was scrapped and the state was divided into two union territories. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 which was cleared in Parliament in August 2019, mentioned new delimitation to redraw the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir according to section 62 of the Act.
The notification of the law ministry said that “it appears that the circumstances that led to the deferring of the delimitation exercise have ceased to exist and that the delimitation of the constituencies as envisaged under the Delimitation Act, 2002 could be carried out now.”
According to section 60 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall be increased from 107 to 114. Out of these 24 seats are in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. So effectively, the seats will go up from 83 to 90.
The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court. In India, four such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted.
The first one was constituted in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, second in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962. Subsequently, another delimitation commission was set up in 1973 under the Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under the Delimitation Act, 2002.