Delimitation exercise

Context: The Supreme Court (SC) prima facie disagreed with the legal stand of the Election Commission (EC) of India that it can only begin the delimitation process in Manipur, Assam, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh after only getting an authorisation from the Centre. Key points
  • Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud citing Section 8A of Representation of the People Act, 1950, said that the Election Commission does not require the authorisation of the Government of India to conduct delimitation.
Section 8A of Representation of the People Act, 1950.
  • Delimitation in 4 states: It deals with the delimitation of Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur or Nagaland.
  • Role of President:
    1. If the President is satisfied that conditions were conducive, he can revoke the deferment of the delimitation exercise in the four States.
    2. The President can provide for the conduct of a delimitation exercise by the Election Commission.
  • Role of Election Commission: Section 8A(2) provides that the Election Commission has to start the delimitation process to determine Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in the four States as soon as the President revokes the order.
What is delimitation?
  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population.
  • Objective-The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population.
  • Delimitation of constituencies is periodically carried out to reflect not only an increase in population but changes in its distribution.
Delimitation Commission
  • It is an independent body to carry out delimitation.
  • It works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India without any executive influence.
  • Appointed by: the President of India under provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act.
  • Composition: A retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner of India and respective State Election Commissioners.
  • Constitutional provisions: The Commission’s orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely.
How is delimitation supposed to be carried out?
  • Under Article 82, Parliament is to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census. Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up the Delimitation Commission.
  • The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
  • The Commission is also tasked with identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Previous delimitation exercises
  • Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981, 1991 and 2001 Censuses.
  • However, the 2002 Act did not make any changes in total Lok Sabha seats or their apportionment between various states.
  • It also left out a few states including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur from the exercise due to security risks.
  • The central government reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for these four states as well as the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in 2020.
News Source: The Hindu 
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