Thursday, Oct 06, 2022

Explainer | What Is Delimitation? What Does It Mean For Jammu And Kashmir

Delimitation is defined as “the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body.” WHat does it mean for J&K? We explain.

Gypsy family of Gujjar ethnicity in the Aru Valley. Shutterstock

Tribal community Gujjars and Bakerwals on Monday welcomed the recommendations of the Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir proposing nine Assembly seats be reserved for Scheduled Tribes (STs). The implementation comes after 30 years of wait. 

"The draft recommendation of the Delimitation Commission regarding the reservation of nine seats for tribals (STs) in J-K Assembly is a step that will prove historic towards tribal development," said Javaid Rahi, noted tribal researcher and founder secretary of Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation.

The Delimitation Commission, set up to redraw the assembly seats of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, is learnt to have proposed six additional seats for the Jammu region and one for Kashmir Valley in its 'Paper 1' discussed with its five associate members on Monday.

Nine seats have been proposed for STs and seven for SCs in Jammu and Kashmir. This is the first time that seats have been proposed for STs in Jammu and Kashmir. 

Prime Minister Modi in June, early this year, held a meeting held with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, where he had made it clear that for the political process to begin and elections to take place in in the Valley, it is crucial for the delimitation exercise to be completed in the region first.

What is Delimitation in the Indian context?

Delimitation is defined as “the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body.”

In the Indian context, Delimitation is the process of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in the population. It’s only after this exercise has been completed that an election can be conducted.

The objective is to have equal representation to equal segments of the population and ensure a fair division of geographical areas so that all political parties or candidates contesting elections have a level playing field in terms of the number of voters.

In the normal course of events, the exercise is carried out every few years after Census to ensure that each seat has approximately an equal number of voters. The Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act under Article 82 of the Constitution and an independent high-powered panel known as the Delimitation Commission is constituted to carry out the exercise.

What does Delimination mean for J&K?

In what used to be the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the delimitation of Lok Sabha seats was governed by the Indian Constitution, but the delimitation of its Assembly seats was governed separately by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.  Jammu and Kashmir were kept out of the delimitation exercise when it was carried out in the rest of the country between 2002-2008.

Following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir lost their special status and became a Union Territory. A delimitation commission was constituted and asked to carve out Assembly and Parliament seats.

The completion of the delimitation exercise in the Valley will signal the resumption of the political process in Jammu and Kashmir, paving way for elections to be held in the Union Territory which has been under Centre's rule since June 2018.

(with inputs from PTI)