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Topic: Delimitation of Constituencies
Delimitation literally means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. The need for periodical delimitation is the, rise in population and the migration of people. The rise in the population has caused an enormous growth in the electorate. Urban constituencies facing constant pressure of population migration had witnessed a faster rate of increase in the electorate as compared to other constituencies. It is to be noted that Lok Sabha constituencies such as Outer Delhi and East Delhi had an electorate of 31 lakhs and 23 lakhs, while the average electorate for a Lok Sabha constituency was about 13 lakhs upto the l4th Lok Sahha elections in 2004. In Delhi, Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency had less than four lakhs electorate.
With the huge discrepancy in these Lok Sabha constituencies, the value ‘of the vote in the Outer Delhi and Chandni Chowk constituencies is not the same. It is not right to have same number of campaigning days for these two constituencies nor same amount of development fund.
Article 81 says about the Composition of the House of the People (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 is, so far as practicable, the same throughout the State)
Article 82 says about the Readjustment after each census (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; the allocation of seats in the House of People to the States should be on the basis of the 1971 census; redrawing the boundaries should be on the basis of the 2001 census; number of constituencies will be adjusted on the basis of 2031 census that is the first census after the demographic stabilization in 2026).
Article 170 says about the Composition of the Legislative assemblies
Article 330 says about the Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People
Article 332 says about the Reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States
42nd, 84th and 87th Amendment Acts
42nd Amendment Act
42nd Amendment Act laid down that there would be no delimitation till after the 2001 census- neither re-demarcation of boundaries nor re-working of numbers due to increase in population, except for the SC/STs. The reason is that some states - especially in southern India, effectively controlled population while some others had neglected the same. The former would lose and the latter would gain if there is allocation of seats on the basis of population after every census.
84th and the 87th Amendment Acts extended the freeze on seats till 2031 census which is the first census after the year 2026 when the population is expected to stabilize Reasons for freeze on the number of seats have been already explained.
The difference between the 84th and the 87th Amendment Acts is that the former took 1991 census as the basis while the latter replaced it with 2001 census.
The ban till the year 2026 had been imposed as the population planners have projected that by that year the population of India would stabilise (addition to population and loss equal, that is, there will be demographic equilibrium with a couple being replaced by a little more than 2 children and the net replacement rate is about 1) After the demographic stability is achieved, if the number is adjusted according to the changes in population, there are no undue gains made by any state nor any undue losses by others. In short, the number of seats in the Lok Sabha / State Legislative Assemblies would not change till 2031.
84th and 87th Amendment Acts
In order to facilitate delimitation for the reasons cited above, two Constitution Amendment Acts were made
These two Acts have amended Articles 81, 82, 170, 330 and 332 of the Constitution of India to the following effect:
The total number of existing seats as allocated to various States in the House of the People on the basis of 1971 census shall remain unaltered till the first census to be taken after the year 2026;
The total number of existing seats in the Legislative Assemblies of all States as fixed on the basis of 1971 census shall also remain unaltered till the first census to be taken after the year 2026;
The number of seats to be reserved for the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the house of the People and State Legislative Assemblies shall be re-worked out ( increase/decrease) on the basis of 2001 census;
Each State shall be redelimited into territorial parliamentary and assembly constituencies on the basis of 2001 census and the extent of such constituencies as delimited now shall remain frozen till the first census to be taken after the year 2026; and
The constituencies shall be so re-delimited that population (on the basis of 2001 census) of each parliamentary and assembly constituency in a State shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the State. (‘State’ here does not include the State of Jammu and Kashmir, but includes the National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Pondicherry)
Methodology of the Delimitation
Delimitation needs to be undertaken in a way as to be integrated with development of the constituency Therefore, administrative, social and geographical dimensions need to be kept in mind.
All constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them regard shall be had to the physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and public convenience.
Each constituency in a State shall be so delimited that the population of all constituencies shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the State.
Constituencies shall be delimited having regard to the administrative units, i.e., district/sub divisions/ tehsils/patwar circles, panchayat samitis/panchayats. So far as practicable, all assembly constituencies in a district shall be confined within the territorial limits of that district. In other words, an assembly constituency shall not ordinarily extend to more than one district. The aim is to ensure that there is proper coordination of administrative, revenue and developmental work.
In delimiting the assembly constituencies, efforts will be made to ensure that, as far as practicable, sub-divisions/tehsils are kept intact and not unnecessarily broken. While delimiting the assembly constituencies on the basis of the administrative, units as mentioned above, the contiguity of such administrative units will be the basic requirement, so that no constituency has an enclave/island within it of certain areas belonging to another constituency and having no contiguity to the other areas of that latter constituency. Further, apart from contiguity, geographical features, better connectivity, means of communication, public convenience will also be kept in view and areas divided by rivers or hilly ranges or forests and other such natural barriers will not be put in the same constituency.
No assembly constituency shall extend to more than one parliamentary constituency.
Under the Delimitation Act 2002, seats for the SC/STs are to be reserved in the constituencies in which the percentage of their population to the total population is the largest.
DC - Delimitation Commission
The duty of delimitation is assigned to a high power Body called the Delimitation Commission. Its orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court These orders come into Force on a date to be specified by the President of India in this behalf. The copies of its orders are laid before the house of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible in them. So far, Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times - in 1952, 1963, 1973 and in 2002.