Electoral Reforms In India

Exploring Assam’s Delimitation Draft


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Delimitation Commission

Mains level: Read the attached story

assam delimitation

Central Idea

  • The recent draft proposal on the Delimitation of Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam by the Election Commission (EC) has stirred significant controversy.
  • The proposal suggests reshaping constituencies, increasing the number of reserved seats, and potentially affecting the political fortunes of various organizations and parties.

What is Delimitation?

  • Objective: Delimitation aims to redraw constituency boundaries to maintain equal population representation in Assembly and Lok Sabha seats.
  • Changing Constituencies: Delimitation may result in the alteration of constituency limits and, in some cases, the number of seats in a state.

Delimitation Process and Commission

  • Independent Delimitation Commission: Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission (DC) constituted by the Union government.
  • Terms of Reference: The DC determines the number and boundaries of constituencies, ensuring population equality and identifying reserved seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Implementation: The draft proposals are published for public feedback, followed by public sittings to consider objections and suggestions. The final order is published in official gazettes.

Historical Context of Delimitation

  • Early Delimitation Exercises: The first delimitation exercise in 1950-51 was conducted by the President. Subsequently, the responsibility was shifted to independent Delimitation Commissions.
  • Frequency of Delimitation: Delimitation has been carried out four times, in 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002, based on the Acts enacted in respective years.

Postponement of Delimitation until 2026

  • Frozen Seats: Delimitation was postponed after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses, freezing the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies.
  • Justification for Postponement: An amendment further delayed delimitation until 2026, with the rationale that uniform population growth would be achieved throughout the country by that time.
  • The Last Delimitation: The most recent delimitation exercise, based on the 2001 Census, focused on adjusting boundaries of existing seats and reworking the number of reserved seats.

Delimitation Exercise in Assam

  • Delimitation exercises were carried out periodically, but in 1976, it was suspended due to the family planning program.
  • The process was deferred for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur, and Nagaland in 2008 due to “security risks.”
  • The Delimitation Commission for Assam and other states was reconstituted by the Central Government in 2020.

Overview of the Proposed Changes

  • Reshaping of Constituencies: The draft proposal suggests reshaping and renaming 24 Assembly seats.
  • Increased Reserved Seats: The number of reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) would be increased from 16 to 19 and eight to nine, respectively.
  • Seat Juggling: The proposal involves converting six reserved seats each for SCs and STs into unreserved seats. Additionally, nine ST and seven SC general seats would become reserved.
  • Impact on Political Figures: Notable political figures, including MLAs and MPs from various parties, may lose their seats due to the proposed changes.

Opposition and Concerns

  • Protests and Discontent: The draft proposal has faced opposition and protests across Assam, with different groups expressing dissatisfaction with the changes.
  • Questioning the Legality: Some have raised concerns regarding the interpretation of Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, which allows reorientation of seats without altering their total number.
  • Use of Census Data: The use of 2001 Census data instead of the more recent 2011 Census data has raised suspicion and allegations of a hidden agenda.
  • Timing and Allegations: Opposition parties have criticized the timing of the delimitation exercise, alleging that it was rushed to affect representation ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Future Outlook and Potential Changes

  • EC’s Call for Suggestions: The EC has invited suggestions and omissions regarding the draft proposal and plans to revisit the State to engage with stakeholders.
  • Legal Challenges: The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has threatened to approach the court if the draft is accepted.
  • Chief Minister’s Perspective: Assam CM has emphasized the need to protect the rights of indigenous people and hinted at potential adjustments to ensure their interests are safeguarded.


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