Delimitation Commission – UPSC

What is Delimitation?
  • Delimitation is the redrawing of boundaries of an assembly or Lok Sabha constituency to reflect changes in the population of a region.
  • Conducted by: 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 by the President of India to carry out the exercise.
  • Composition: Retired Supreme Court judge, Chief Election Commissioner and Respective State Election Commissioners.
  • Associate members: Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies of states for which the Delimitation Commission is set up, are nominated as associate members to help the commission in its task.
  • Powers: The Delimitation Commission is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.
Delimitation Commission:
  • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
  • Composition:
    • Retired Supreme Court judge
    • Chief Election Commissioner
    • Respective State Election Commissioners
  • Functions:
    • To determine the number and boundaries of constituencies to make the population of all constituencies nearly equal.
    • To identify seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, wherever their population is relatively large.
    • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
    • The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.
84th Constitutional Amendment:
  • The 84th Amendment to the Constitution in 2002 had put a freeze on the delimitation of Lok Sabha and State Assembly constituencies till the first Census after 2026.
  • The current boundaries were drawn on the basis of the 2001 Census, the number of Lok Sabha seats and State Assembly seats remained frozen on the basis of the 1971 Census.
  • The population according to the last census preceding the freeze was 50 crore, which in 50 years has grown to 130 crore, causing a massive asymmetry in the political representation in the country.
Delimitation in J&K:
  • Delimitation in J&K had followed a slightly different trajectory than in the rest of the country due to the special status it was accorded under Article 370.
  • While the delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India, Assembly seats allocation was governed under Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957. 
  • The last Delimitation exercise was conducted in J&K in 1995 based on the 1981 census. There was no census in the state in 1991.And after the 2001 census, the J&K assembly had passed a law putting on hold delimitation till 2026.
  • However, following the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status and became a Union Territory. Hence, a delimitation commission has been constituted to carve out Assembly and Parliament seats.

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