The completion of the process of redrawing boundaries for assembly and parliamentary constituencies would now pave the way for conducting elections in the Union Territory

Just a day before its extended tenure gets completed, the Jammu and Kashmir delimitation commission notified and submitted its long-awaited final report, and recommended having 43 seats in Jammu and 47 in Kashmir, including nine seats to be reserved for the scheduled tribes.

The completion of the process of redrawing boundaries for assembly and parliamentary constituencies would now pave the way for conducting elections in the Union Territory. Since June 2018, there was no elected government in Jammu & Kashmir.

Set up in March 2020 after the state was bifurcated into two parts in 2019, the delimitation commission has suggested that Kashmiri migrants and displaced individuals from Pakistan-occupied Jammu & Kashmir will be given extra seats in the legislature.

While carrying out the redrawing of boundaries process, the commission viewed the entire union territory as a single entity.

Now, the total number of assembly seats in the Jammu region has been increased to 43 from 37 while in Kashmir the number of seats has been raised by 1 to 47.

Let us know about the delimitation commission and how it works.

What Is The Delimitation Process?

The government carries out the redrawing process of boundaries of assembly and parliamentary constituencies so that whatever demographic changes have taken place in the constituencies could be reflected.

Under delimitation, a designated number of seats are also reserved for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.

What Is Delimitation Commission?

It is a team constituted with legislative back-up. The panel is independent of the government and political parties in its functioning.

A retired Supreme Court judge chairs the Commission while the members are drawn from the Election Commission of India and state election commissions.

Who Were The Members of The J&K Delimitation Commission?

Former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai is the chairman of the commission while the ex-officio members include Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Deputy Election Commissioner Chander Bhushan Kumar, as well as State Election Commissioner KK Sharma and Chief Electoral Officer Hridesh Kumar.

Five Members of Parliament from Jammu & Kashmir were its associate members, but their suggestions and recommendations were not binding on the commission.

Four Delimitation Commissions have been set up so far for new boundaries of the constituencies and suggest the number of constituencies at the national level. These include 1952, 1963, 1972 and 2002. Since 1972, the number of Lok Sabha seats has not been revised but in 2002 it has been frozen at 543 till 2026.

Why Did J&K Need Delimitation?

Prior to the bifurcation of the erstwhile state, the assembly had 107 seats but with the enactment of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, the number of seats was increased to 114, including 24 seats that fall under Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

So when there is a change in the number of seats, it is mandatory to alter or redraw a fresh boundary for each constituency. For conducting the election, it is necessary to have boundaries of constituencies.

How Does Delimitation Work?

After the census that is usually carried out every 10 years, the delimitation commission under a retired apex court judge is set up to examine population data, existing constituencies and the number of seats.

The commission holds meetings with all the stakeholders and submits its recommendation to the government.

In the Gazette of India, states and at least two vernacular publications, the Commission's draft reports are published to seek feedback from the general public.

Once the feedback is received, the Commission studies it and makes changes if there is a requirement. Then, the President notifies the report and then the order is implemented. This will be in practice till the next delimitation takes place.