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- The delimitation of constituencies for the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies is to be carried out on the basis of the first Census after 2026.
- The 2021 Census was originally postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently due to delays on the part of the Central government.
What is Delimitation?
- Delimitation refers to fixing the number of seats and boundaries of territorial constituencies for the Lok Sabha and Legislative assemblies.
- It includes determining seats reserved for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST).
- Article 82 and 170 of the Constitution mandate readjustment of seats after each Census, performed by the Delimitation Commission.
- Delimitation involves establishing boundaries for electoral constituencies based on population changes within a country.
- The process aims to ensure fair representation by dividing geographical areas into constituencies.
- Democracy necessitates representation based on the principle of 'one citizen-one vote-one value'.
- The number of Lok Sabha seats was frozen as per the 1971 Census to promote population control measures.
- Seats were redistributed after the 2001 Census, and will be readjusted post-2026 Census.
Independence of the Delimitation Commission
- The Delimitation Commission operates autonomously, free from executive influence.
- Its decisions are final and cannot be challenged in court, preventing delays in elections.
- Once presented, the orders of the Commission to the Lok Sabha or State Legislative Assembly remain unalterable.
Objectives of Delimitation
- Equitable representation for all segments of the population, adhering to the principle of "One Vote One Value."
- Preventing any single political party from gaining an unfair advantage through constituency delineation.
Composition of the Delimitation Commission
- Appointed by the President of India in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.
- Members include retired Supreme Court judges, the Chief Election Commissioner, and State Election Commissioners.
Process of Delimitation
- Initiated through the enactment of a Delimitation Act by Parliament after each Census.
- States also undergo division into territorial constituencies according to this Act.
- The Union government establishes a Delimitation Commission to carry out the delineation.
- Delimitation exercises have occurred in various years, notably in 1950-51, 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002.
- Exceptions exist, such as after the Censuses of 1981 and 1991.
Issues Surrounding Delimitation
- Concerns arise regarding states with lax population control policies potentially gaining an undue number of parliamentary seats.
- Discrepancies occur when delimitation is based on a recent census while the total number of seats remains determined by an older census.
- Constitutional limits on the number of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha seats may result in increasing populations being represented by a single representative.
- Uneven population growth across states poses challenges in delimitation.
- Options for delimitation based on projected 2026 population are debated, with implications on representation and federal principles.
- In the U.S., seats in the House of Representatives are capped and redistributed after each Census.
- The EU Parliament follows 'degressive proportionality', increasing seats with population growth.
- Reconciling democratic and federal principles is crucial.
- Maintaining the current number of Lok Sabha seats while adjusting state-level representation ensures continuity and upholds federalism.
- Strengthening local governance through empowerment of panchayats and municipalities is essential for grassroots democracy.
Q. Consider the following statements regarding the Delimitation exercise in India:
Which of the above statements is/are incorrect?
A) 1 and 4 only
B) 2, 3 and 4 only
C) 3 only
Answer: B) 2 only
Therefore, the correct answer is B) 2, 3 and 4 only.