J&K – The issues around the state

Delimitation of Constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Delimitation of constituencies

Mains level : Jammu and Kashmir after reorganization

Members of the Jammu & Kashmir Delimitation Commission faced protests in Jammu as they embarked on a two-day visit to hold consultations with citizens, civil society groups and political parties.

What is Delimitation and why is it needed?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time.
  • This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned before any court.
  • The objective is to redraw boundaries (based on the data of the last Census) in a way so that the population of all seats, as far as practicable, be the same throughout the State.
  • Aside from changing the limits of a constituency, the process may result in a change in the number of seats in a state.

Delimitation in J&K

  • Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995.
  • Prior to August 5, 2019, carving out of J&K’s Assembly seats was carried out under the J&K Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.
  • Until then, the delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India.
  • However, the delimitation of the state’s Assembly was governed by the J&K Constitution and J&K Representation of the People Act, 1957.
  • There was no census in the state in 1991 and hence no Delimitation Commission was set up by the state until 2001 census.

Why is it in the news again?

  • After the abrogation of J&K’s special status in 2019, the delimitation of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in the newly-created UT would be as per the provisions of the Indian Constitution.
  • On March 6, 2020, the government set up the Delimitation Commission, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, which was tasked with winding up delimitation in J&K in a year.
  • As per the J&K Reorganization Bill, the number of Assembly seats in J&K would increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to benefit the Jammu region.

Factors considered during Delimitation

  • The number of districts had increased from 12 to 20 and tehsils from 52 to 207 since the last delimitation.
  • The population density ranged from 29 persons a square km in Kishtwar to 3,436 persons a square km in Srinagar.
  • The remoteness of the place, inaccessibility etc are also considered during the exercise.

Concerns raised over Delimitation

  • Jammu vs. Kashmir: Concerns had been expressed over how the delimitation process may end up favoring the Jammu region over Kashmir in terms of the seats.
  • Under-representation of Ladakh: Arguments have been made on how Ladakh has been underrepresented, with demands for statehood/sixth schedule.
  • Non-proportionate reservations: It is argued that seats for STs should’ve been divided in both Jammu province & Kashmir province, as the ST population is almost equal.
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