Prime Minister Modi, in his meeting held with political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir, has 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.
But then what is Delimitation and 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.”
- 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 a 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.
J&K and Delimitation
- 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 was 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 its 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 for 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.