- After multiple objections and extensions, the J&K Delimitation Commission submitted its final report on May 5, 2022, two years after it was appointed to redraw the electoral boundaries in Jammu and Kashmir as per the mandate set by the Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019.
- In its order, a notification of which was published in the Gazette of India, the three-member panel carved out additional six Assembly seats for the Jammu region and one for the Kashmir valley as per the Act. The final order of the Commission has set the stage for elections in the erstwhile State that last held Assembly polls in 2014.
What is delimitation?
- Delimitation is the process of redrawing boundaries of the Lok Sabha or Assembly constituencies. The process is carried out in accordance with changes in the demographic status of a State or Union Territory. Delimitation is done by a Delimitation Commission or Boundary Commission.
- The orders of the independent body cannot be questioned before any court. In the past, Delimitation Commissions were set up in 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002.
- Before the abrogation of Article 370 that accorded a special status to J&K, delimitation of its Assembly seats was carried out by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and the Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957. The delimitation of Lok Sabha constituencies, meanwhile, was governed by the Constitution.
What is the J&K Delimitation Commission?
- The last time a delimitation exercise was carried out in Jammu and Kashmir was in 1995, based on the 1981 Census. Jammu and Kashmir was under President’s rule at that time. There was no Census in 1991 in J&K due to the tense situation in the valley. In 2001, the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly passed a law to put the delimitation process on hold till 2026.
- The Centre set up a Delimitation Commission in March 2020, six months after the State of Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated and reorganised as the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
- The Commission was tasked with delimiting the Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in the UT of J&K based on the 2011 Census and in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 and the Delimitation Act, 2002.
What are the key takeaways from the final report?
- First, J&K is split into two divisions, with Jammu having 37 Assembly seats and Kashmir 46. After the Commission’s final draft, six additional Assembly seats are earmarked for Jammu (revised to 43) and one for Kashmir (revised to 47). The total number of Assembly seats in the UT will increase from 83 to 90.
- Second, the Commission has recommended the Centre to nominate at least two Kashmiri Pandits to the Legislative Assembly. Third, the panel has proposed nine seats for the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
- Fourth, the Commission has also recommended that the government consider giving displaced persons from Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir representation in the Assembly through nomination.
What lies ahead?
- The Centre will now fix a date from which the delimitation order will come into effect. This will pave the way for the much-awaited first Assembly polls in Jammu and Kashmir after being stripped of its special status in 2019.