J&K delimitation exercise sets a dangerous precedent

News: Delimitation Commission headed by Justice Ranjana Desai has completed the task of delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir, but there have been some concerns regarding its mandate. 

What are the issues associated with the recently concluded delimitation of J&K? 

Population base: This delimitation commission has  taken the 2011 Census as the basis for delimitation for J&K, however, in all other states, delimitation has been done on the basis of the 2001 census in accordance with the Delimitation Act of 2002. 

Increase in the number of seats: Circumventing the Delimitation Act of 2002, the Union government increased the number of seats in the legislative assembly of J&K from 107 to 114 through the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. 

Problem is that only the Delimitation Commission has the sole prerogative to decide on both these matters.  

Note-Clause 8(b) of the Delimitation Act of 2002, mandates and empowers the Delimitation Commission to decide on the “the total number of seats to be assigned to the Legislative Assembly of each State and determine on the basis of the census figures”. 

According to some, the commission has introduced an imbalance in the regional representation by increasing the assembly constituencies in Jammu. In the allocation proposed by the Commission, it gives 47% of the seats to Jammu which accounts for 44% of the population and 56% of the population living in Kashmir will have only a 52% share in the assembly.  

Considerations given primacy than criterion: In all the four previous delimitation commissions, the basis for the creation of constituencies was the criteria of population. In addition to this, some considerations, such as topography, geographical continuity and physical features were used for drawing the constituency boundaries.  

But commission this time seems to have given primacy to “considerations” over the “criteria. 

Source: This post is based on the article “J&K delimitation exercise sets a dangerous precedent” published in The Indian express on 31st Dec 2021 

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