The newly created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) will be the only one in the country to undergo a delimitation exercise based on the population figures recorded in the 2011 census . The latest readjustment of boundaries of constituencies in other States and UTs has been done on the basis of 2001 census and in future it will be carried out according to the 2031 census.
A senior Home Ministry official said the unique provision for J&K was enabled through an amendment that was introduced in the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019 . The Act passed by Parliament on August 6, downgraded and bifurcated the State of J&K into two Union Territories – J&K (with a legislature) and Ladakh (without legislature). The J&K Assembly was dissolved in November 2018 and the region has been Centre’s rule since June 2018.
As per 2011 Census, the population in Kashmir region is 68,88,475, Jammu has a population of 53,78,538 and Ladakh has 2,74,289.
As per a government answer in Lok Sabha last year there are 37,33,111 voters in Jammu division, 40,10,971 voters in Kashmir division and 1,79,147 voters in Ladakh division in undivided J&K.
Delimitation was last done in J&K in the year 1995.
“Section 63 was introduced in the J&K Reorganisation Ac t so that delimitation exercise can be conducted smoothly without overlapping with other provisions of Delimitation Commission Act , 2002. It is a saving clause and since J&K is a UT, it now has constitutional safeguards. The provision did not require any separate legislation as it was incorporated in the primary Act,” said the official.
Section 63 (Special provisions as to readjustment of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies) says 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 constituencies and any reference to the “latest census figures” in shall be construed as a reference to the 2011 census figures.
On February 17, on a request by the Department of Legislative Affairs of the Ministry of Law and Justice, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora nominated Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra as his nominee to the proposed Delimitation Commission for J&K. The Act says that the number of seats in the Assembly of J&K would be increased from 107 to 114. The full delimitation commission for J&K is yet to be appointed.
“The delimitation will be done for 90 seats as 24 seats fall in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). The exercise will take at least a year to complete. Till then no elections can be held,” said the official.
In rest of India, Delimitation Commissions have been constituted four times -– in 1952, 1963 1973 and in 2002.
Last year, the Centre informed the Lok Sabha that J&K was not included within the purview of the Delimitation Act, 2002 as Article 170 of the Constitution of India that deals with delimitation of constituencies of State Assemblies had not been extended to J&K owing to its special status under Article 370.