The process of delimitation of Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been set in motion with the appointment of former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai as chairperson of Delimitation Commission.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002, the Central Government hereby constitutes the Delimitation Commission for delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland,” the notification said.
Chief Election Commissioner Shushil Chandra and election commissioners of J&K, and the four North-Eastern states will be ex-officio members of the Commission.
Delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir will be carried out per the provisions of J&K Reorganisation Act that split the state into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir with an assembly and Ladakh without an assembly.
The delimitation in J&K will be based on the Census of 2011 due to an amendment in the J&K Reorganisation Act.
The latest delimitation in other parts of India has been done as per the census of 2001. The future delimitation will be based on the census of 2031.
The number of assembly seats in J&K after delimitation will increase from 107 to 114 that includes 24 seats for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The J&K Assembly was dissolved in November 2018 after being in suspended animation for six months.
The last delimitation of J&K was done in 1995 when the former state was under the President’s Rule.
The J&K assembly in 2002 had barred delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir till 2026 by amending the J&K Peoples Representation Act. The move was challenged by Panther’s Party chief Bhim Singh in the Supreme Court but the court refused to overturn the decision of J&K assembly.
Before J&K was reorganised, there were 46 assembly seats in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and four in Ladakh.
After delimitation, Jammu is likely to gain five seats and Kashmir two.
Through delimitation, the BJP aims to shift the balance of power to Hindu majority Jammu from Muslim majority Kashmir. Muslim constitute around 70 per cent of the population in Jammu and Kashmir. Though Hindus constitute a majority in Jammu, Muslims comprise a sizeable 38 per cent of the population mostly in Pir Panjal and Chenab Valley.
The 'order' issued by the Legislative Department of the Law Ministry had said "it appears that the circumstances that led to the deferring of the delimitation exercise" in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland "have ceased to exist and that the delimitation of the constituencies as envisaged under the Delimitation Act, 2002 could be carried out now".
A Delimitation Commission was set up under the Delimitation Act, 2002 to readjust the division of each state and union territory into territorial constituencies for Lok Sabha and state assembly elections based on census figures of 2001.
The job of delimitation is assigned to a high power body. Such a body is known as Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission.
“In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted four times— in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002,” the EC website said.