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DELIMITATION

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DELIMITATION 

The Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam (Women Reservation Bill) will come into effect only after the delimitation of constituencies is done by a delimitation commission.

The delimitation process will decide which constituency to be reserved for women.

The bill says that the law will be applicable after an exercise of delimitation is undertaken based on the data collected from the first census released after the passage of the bill.

WHAT IS DELIMITATION?

  • According to the Election Commission, the word ‘delimitation’ is defined as “the act or process of fixing limits/boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body”.
  • In the Indian context, the exercise of redrawing the boundaries of Lok Sabha and Legislative Assembly Constituencies in a region is known as delimitation.
  • In this process, the number of seats allocated to a particular state/UT in Lok Sabha or in the Legislative Assembly may vary.
    • For example – Delhi, a union territory with legislative assembly, has 7 Lok Sabha constituencies while in the Legislative Assembly it has 70 constituencies.

CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

  • Article 82 and Article 170 of the Constitution empowers the Parliament to readjust the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of States respectively, after every census.
  • Accordingly, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Commission Act and an independent high-powered panel known as the Delimitation Commission is constituted to carry out the exercise of delimitation.
  • The Parliament has enacted the Delimitation Commission Acts in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002 for this purpose. There was no Delimitation Commission Act after the 1981 and 1991 census.
  • The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census data under the provisions of Delimitation Commission Act, 2002.
  • The next Delimitation Commission is expected to be set up after 2026.
  • Further, Article 330 and Article 332 of the Constitution provide for re-fixing the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and the Legislative Assemblies of the states, on the basis of the 2001 census.

ABOUT DELIMITATION COMMISSION

  • The Delimitation Commission is a high-powered committee entrusted with the task of drawing and redrawing of boundaries of different constituencies for state assembly and Lok Sabha election.
  • It is appointed by the President and works in collaboration with the Election Commission.
  • The Commission consists of –
    • A retired or working Supreme Court Judge (chairperson)
    • Election Commissioner
    • Concerned State Election Commissioners.

THE DELIMITATION EXERCISES TILL NOW

Delimitation results in change in the total no. of Assembly & Parliamentary seats.

  • Delimitation in 1950s (Post 1951 census): Increased the seats from 489 to 494.
  • Delimitation in 1960s (Post 1961 census): Increased the seats from 494 to 522.
  • Delimitation in 1970s (Post 1971 census): Increased the seats from 522 to 543.
  • Delimitation in 2002 (Post 2001 census): Boundaries redrawn without seat increase.

THE CONCERN

The 1970s increase sparked concerns. The constitution mandates that states receive seats on the basis of Population Ratio. (Has to be maintained uniform largely across the country)

This unintentionally implied that those states which were not undertaking Family Planning Provisions strictly, were getting incentivised with more seats;

Whereas those states which were taking Family planning seriously, were getting disincentivized for something good they were doing.

Hence the seats were frozen since 1976.

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