ASSAM DELIMITATION DRAFT
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Context: The Election Commission has released the draft delimitation papers for Assam, which will affect the representation of the state in the Parliament and the Legislative Assembly. The delimitation exercise is based on the Census data of 2001, as per the Delimitation Act of 2002.
- The draft delimitation papers propose to retain the number of Assembly seats in Assam at 126 and the Lok Sabha constituencies at 14, as per the allocation made by the Delimitation Commission of 2002.
- However, the draft papers suggest some changes in the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in both the Assembly and the Parliament.
- The number of Assembly seats reserved for SCs is proposed to increase from 8 to 9, while the number of ST seats is proposed to increase from 16 to 19.
- The number of parliamentary seats reserved for STs is proposed to increase from 1 to 2, while one seat is proposed to be reserved for SCs.
- The draft papers also propose some changes in the boundaries of some constituencies, based on the population and geographical factors. For example, some constituencies are proposed to be bifurcated or merged with others, while some are proposed to be shifted from one district to another.
The draft papers are open for public objections and suggestions till July 31, 2023. The Election Commission will consider the feedback and publish the final delimitation order by August 31, 2023. The new delimitation order will come into effect from the next general elections in Assam.
- Delimitation is the process of redrawing the boundaries of parliamentary and assembly constituencies to ensure equal representation of the population. It is a crucial exercise for democracy, as it ensures that every citizen's vote has equal value.
Constitutional provisions related to delimitation:
- Article 82 and Article 170 empower the Parliament to readjust the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies respectively, after every census.
- The Parliament enacts a Delimitation Commission Act to constitute an independent high-powered panel, known as the Delimitation Commission, to carry out the delimitation exercise.
- The Parliament has enacted four Delimitation Commission Acts so far, in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002.
- There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 censuses, due to a freeze on the number of seats in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies imposed by the 42nd and 84th constitutional amendments.
- The current delimitation is based on the 2001 census data, under the Delimitation Commission Act, 2002.
- The next delimitation will take place after 2026, when the freeze on the number of seats will end, according to the 87th constitutional amendment.
- Article 330 and Article 332 provide for re-fixing the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Lok Sabha and the state assemblies, based on the 2001 census.
- It ensures fair and equal representation of the people in the legislatures by reflecting the demographic changes.
- It enhances the accountability and responsiveness of the elected representatives by making them more accessible to their constituents.
- It fosters healthy competition among political parties and candidates by creating new opportunities and challenges for them.
- It promotes social justice and empowerment of marginalized groups by giving them adequate representation in the legislature.
- It strengthens the federal structure and regional balance of India by respecting the diversity and aspirations of different states and regions.
- The Delimitation Commission is a constitutional body that is tasked with the responsibility of redrawing the boundaries of the parliamentary and assembly constituencies in India.
- The Commission is appointed by the President of India and consists of three members: a retired Supreme Court judge as the chairperson, the Chief Election Commissioner or an Election Commissioner nominated by him, and a state election commissioner from each state for which the delimitation exercise is carried out.
- The main objective of the delimitation exercise is to ensure equal representation of the people in the legislatures by adjusting the number and boundaries of the constituencies according to the population changes.
- The Commission’s orders have the force of law and cannot be called into question before any court. Its orders are laid before the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies concerned, but they cannot effect any modifications in the orders.
Challenges and Controversies
- It may create dissatisfaction and resentment among some sections of society who may feel that their interests are compromised or ignored by the new boundaries.
- It may trigger political instability and violence in some areas where there are disputes or conflicts over territorial claims or identity issues.
- It may affect the electoral prospects and fortunes of some political parties and candidates who may lose or gain their traditional bastions or influence zones.
- It may pose logistical and administrative difficulties for conducting free and fair elections in some constituencies where there are geographical constraints or security threats.
- The commission needs to adopt a transparent, consultative and participatory approach in its work, and ensure that its recommendations are fair, rational and constitutional.
- It needs to balance the competing demands and expectations of various stakeholders and avoid any arbitrary or biased decisions.
- The commission's work is crucial for strengthening India's democracy and federalism, and ensuring that every citizen's voice is heard and represented in the parliament and the assemblies.
Delimitation Commission: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/delimitation-commission-6
Q. What is the main function of the Delimitation Commission?
1. To allocate seats in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies among different states
2. To draw the boundaries of parliamentary and assembly constituencies
3. To determine the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
4. To fix the number of voters in each constituency
How many of the above statements is/are correct?
A) Only 1
B) Only 2
C) Only 3
Explanation: The Delimitation Commission is a constitutional body that is set up every 10 years after each census to redraw the boundaries of parliamentary and assembly constituencies based on population changes and other factors.