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Delimitation

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Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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What is the Delimitation Commission of India?

The Delimitation Commission of India, also known as the Boundary Commission of India, is a commission established by the Indian government under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act. The commission's principal responsibility is to redraw the borders of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census. During this practice, the representation from each state remains constant. The seats for SC and ST in a state, on the other hand, are adjusted in accordance with the census. 


The current delimitation of constituencies was carried out in accordance with the terms of the Delimitation Act, 2002, on the basis of the 2001 census. The Commission is an independent and powerful body whose decisions are unassailable in any court of law. The orders are presented to the Lok Sabha as well as the appropriate State Legislative Assemblies. Modifications, however, are not permitted. 


Delimitation commissions have been established four times in the past — in 1952, 1962, 1972, and 2002 — under Delimitation Commission Acts.


The union government deferred delimitation in 1976 until after the 2001 census to ensure that state family planning initiatives did not damage their political representation in the Lok Sabha. This had resulted in enormous disparities in constituency size, with the greatest having nearly three million electors and the smallest having less than 50,000.


What is Delimitation?

The act or process of defining the limits or borders of geographical constituencies in a country or province with a legislative body is referred to as delimitation. A high-power body is tasked with delimitation. A Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission is one such body.


In India, similar Delimitation Commissions were established four times: in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act of 1952, in 1963 under the Delimitation Commission Act of 1962, in 1973 under the Delimitation Act of 1972, and in 2002 under the Delimitation Act of 2002.


In India, the Delimitation Commission is a high-level organization whose orders have the force of law and cannot be challenged in court.


Constitutional Provisions

Article 82

Upon the completion of each census, the allocation of seats in the House of the People to the States and the division of each State into territorial constituencies shall be readjusted by such authority and in such manner as Parliament may by law determine:

  • Provided that such readjustment shall not affect representation in the House of the People until the dissolution of the then existing House:

  • Provided further that such readjustment shall take effect from such date as the President may, by order, specify and until such readjustment takes effect, any election to the House may be held on the basis of the territorial constituencies existing before such readjustment

  • Provided also that until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2026 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust - 

    • the allocation of seats in the House of People to the States as readjusted on the basis of the 1971 census; and

    • the division of each State into territorial constituencies as may be readjusted on the basis of the 2001 census,


Article 170

  • Subject to the provisions of Article 333, the Legislative Assembly of each State shall consist of not more than five hundred, and not less than sixty, members chosen by direct election from territorial constituencies in the State

  • For the purposes of clause ( 1 ), each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the State Explanation In this clause, the expression population means the population as ascertained at the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published: 

    • Provided that the reference in this Explanation to the last preceding census of which the relevant figures have been published shall, until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2000 have been published, be construed as a reference to the 1971 census

  • Upon the completion of each census, the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State and the division of each State into territorial constituencies shall be readjusted by such authority and in such manner as Parliament may by law determine: 

    • Provided that such readjustment shall not affect representation in the Legislative Assembly until the dissolution of the then existing Assembly

    • Provided further that such readjustment shall take effect from such date as the President may, by order, specify and until such readjustment takes effect, any election to the Legislative Assembly may be held on the basis of the territorial constituencies existing before such readjustment

    • Provided also that until the relevant figures for the first census taken after the year 2000 have been published, it shall not be necessary to readjust the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State and the division of such State into territorial constituencies under this clause


Delimitation Act 2002

Following the 2001 census, the most recent delimitation commission was created on July 12, 2002, with a retired Supreme Court Judge, as its Chairperson. The Commission's recommendations have been submitted. On a petition, the Supreme Court sent a notice to the central government in December 2007, asking for reasons for non-implementation. On January 4, 2008, the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) resolved to carry out the Delimitation Commission's ruling. On February 19, President Pratibha Patil adopted the Commission's recommendations.


The current delimitation of parliamentary constituencies was carried out in accordance with the terms of the Delimitation Act, 2002, using 2001 census statistics. Karnataka's assembly election, held in three phases in May 2008, was the first to adopt the revised boundaries created by the 2002 delimitation panel. The Delimitation Commission served until May 31, 2008. The Commission's delimitation orders took effect on February 19, 2008, for the majority of states and union territories, and on March 20, 2008, for Tripura and Meghalaya, by presidential order.


By introducing section 10B into the Delimitation Act of 2002, the orders pertaining to Jharkhand were rendered null and void till 2026. Due to security concerns, the delimitation of four north-eastern states was postponed by four distinct presidential decrees issued on February 8, 2008, for Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Manipur. On February 28, 2020, the Assam order was revoked. As a result, the Government of India has reestablished the Delimitation Commission for these four states, as well as the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, to be chaired by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai, on March 6, 2020. The four northeastern states were withdrawn from the purview of the reformed Commission in March 2021.


How Frequently has Delimitation been Performed?

The preceding Census is used to determine delimitation. The President conducted the first such exercise in 1950-51, with the assistance of the Election Commission. Following the passage of the Delimitation Commission Act in 1952, all such exercises have been carried out by Delimitation Commissions, which were established in 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002.


Following the 1981 and 1991 Censuses, there was no delimitation. This was a result of the requirement that the ratio of the number of Lok Sabha seats in a state to the state's population is, as far as possible, the same for all states.


Although this was unintended, it meant that states with little interest in population control may end up with more representatives in Parliament, while southern states that favoured family planning could end up with fewer seats. In response to these concerns, the Constitution was revised in 1976 to prohibit delimitation until 2001.


Another amendment extended the seat freeze until 2026 when the country was expected to establish a consistent population growth rate. So, based on the 2001 Census, the most recent delimitation exercise, which took place between July 2002 and March 31, 2008, simply readjusted the boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies and modified the number of reserved seats.


Why were These Four States Left Out between 2002 and 2008?

Various organizations in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland had petitioned the Gauhati High Court against the 2002-08 exercise, questioning the use of the 2001 Census as a reference. An all-party delegation from Assam met with then-Home Minister Shivraj Patil, begging for the delimitation to be halted because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) had not been updated. The Delimitation Act was revised in 2008, and Presidential directives were issued on February 8, 2008, deferring delimitation in these four states.


When did the Government Decide to Reintroduce Delimitation for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland?

President Ram Nath Kovind paved the way for the commencement of the delimitation procedure in the four states on February 28 this year by canceling the order issued on February 8, 2008. According to a new order issued by the Law Ministry's Legislative Department, "it appears that the circumstances that led to the postponement of the delimitation exercise" in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Nagaland "have ceased to exist" and that "the delimitation of the constituencies as envisaged under the Delimitation Act, 2002 could be carried out now."


It was reported that there has been a decrease in insurgency incidences, making the situation suitable for delimitation.


Following that, on March 6, the Law Ministry notified the Delimitation Commission for the four northeast states as well as Jammu and Kashmir, which was similarly overlooked in 2002-08. Former Supreme Court Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai serves as its chairperson, while Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra represents the EC on the panel.


Will the Number of Seats in These States Change as a Result of Delimitation?

Not in any of the four Northeastern states. The number of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in any state remains frozen till 2026. Delimitation will simply redraw the boundaries of each state's seats and may change the number of reserved seats for SCs and STs. However, due to unique past circumstances, the number of Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir would now grow from 107 to 114, which is projected to increase Jammu region representation.


Conclusion

Thus, in this article we have covered the basic information about the Delimitation. In simple words, Delimitation is all about fixing the territorial boundaries of the constituencies with respect to the population. This process is said to be done after every census. The basic objective of this is fair representation, fair geographical division for all the political parties and in order to follow the motto of " One Vote One Value."

FAQs on Delimitation

1. Will the number of seats in these states change as a result of delimitation?

Not in any of the four Northeastern states. The number of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in any state remains frozen till 2026. Delimitation will simply redraw the boundaries of each state's seats and may change the number of reserved seats for SCs and STs. However, due to unique past circumstances, the number of Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir would now grow from 107 to 114, which is projected to increase Jammu region representation.

2. Who are the Delimitation Commission members?

The Election Commissioner, Shri B.B. Tandon, and the Election Commissioners of the affected States and Union Territories will also serve on the Delimitation Commission. They were appointed pursuant to Clause (1) of Article 243 K, or Clause (1) of Article 243 L of the Constitution, as applicable.

3. What exactly is the Delimitation Commission Act?

The Delimitation Commission of India, also known as the Boundary Commission of India, is a commission established by the Indian government under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act. The commission's principal responsibility is to redraw the borders of the various assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies based on a recent census.

4. Who decides what constitutes a territorial constituency?

Territorial constituencies meaning states, under the requirements of the Delimitation Act of 2002, the current delimitation of parliamentary constituencies was done on the basis of 2001 census statistics. The assembly election in Karnataka, which was held in three phases in May 2008, was the first to adopt the new delimitation commission's boundaries.

5. What are article 82 and article 170?

After each Census, Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act under Article 82. Every Census, under Article 170, states are divided into territorial constituencies based on the Delimitation Act. The Union government establishes a Delimitation Commission after the Act is in effect.