Centre Grants 1-Year Extension For Delimitation Commission in J&K

It was set up in October 2019 to redraw electoral constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir and four northeastern states.

3 min read
Delimitation in Jammu & Kashmir. Image of maps of newly-formed UTs of Ladakh and J&K used for representational purposes. 

The Delimitation Committee has gotten a one-year extension for completing its task in Jammu and Kashmir according to a gazette notification by the Centre on Wednesday night, 3 March.

Formed in October 2019, after the abrogation of special status from the Union Territory, the panel was set up to redraw the electoral constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir and four northeastern states – Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, reported PTI.

The one-year extension is only for J&K, indicating further delay in the holding of Assembly polls in the Union Territory, which can be held only after the process is over.

The panel is headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, and has MPs from J&K as ex-officio members.

In the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, delimitation would have to be done for 114 constituencies on the basis of the 2011 Census.

The bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories by the passing of the J&K Reorganisation Act in August 2019, alongside the effective revocation of Article 370, has led to the creating of the Delimitation Committee.

Jammu and Kashmir is to have a legislature like Puducherry, with a Lieutenant Governor and Ladakh is to be a UT without legislature like Chandigarh. Law and Order is to be under the control of the Centre, added the report.

NC Boycotts Proceedings

The proceedings of the commission has been boycotted by the National Conference (NC) party, including three panel representatives.

In a letter to the chairperson of the commission, the party members including former J&K Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah raised concerns around the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, saying its been challenged in the Supreme Court.

The letter stated it “has been enacted in disregard and violation of the mandate and the spirit of the Constitution of India and therefore, not to be acted upon”. It added, “We have thrown a challenge to the constitutional validity of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 exercise of powers whereunder the meeting in question is proposed to be held," according to PTI.

About The Delimitation Commission

Delimitation refers to the fixing of limits or boundaries of Assembly or parliamentary constituencies in a country or province having a legislative body. The exercise basically redraws the scope and size of segments and determines the number of seats to be reserved for Scheduled Castes.

This is a process which is usually carried out every few years in order to ensure that every constituency has a similar number of voters.

The job of delimitation is given to a commission set up specifically for this task, called the Delimitation Commission, a body whose orders are legally binding and cannot be questioned in any court of law, according to the Election Commission.

While copies of the orders can be laid before Parliament and the concerned State Legislative Assembly, neither can suggest any modifications. These orders come into force on a date to be specified by the President of India.

The body itself comprises a retired or sitting judge of the Supreme Court, the Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner nominated by the Chief Election Commissioner, as well as the election commissioner of the state in which delimitation is being carried out.

Apart from that, five MPs and five MLAs of the state are also chosen as associate members of the commission, according to the provisions of the Delimitation Act.

As per the Election Commission, the Constitution has been formed four times – in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.

(With inputs from PTI)

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