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Question – Describe the process of delimitation in India. In the present time, please also highlight issues related to the delimitation process. – 6 July 2021
Process of delimitation in India
Delimitation is the act or process of determining the boundaries or delimitations of territorial constituencies in a country or province having a legislative body. The task of delimitation is entrusted to a higher power body called the Delimitation Commission. Four such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted in India, i.e. in 1952, 1963, 1973 and the latest in 2002. The orders of the Commission have the power of law and cannot be challenged before any court.
Under Article 82 of the Constitution, the Parliament passes a Delimitation Act after every census. After the commencement of the Act, the Central Government constitutes a Delimitation Commission. This delimitation is based on the principle of equality in proportion to the number of seats allotted to each state and the population of that state. The term population expressed under Article 81 of the Constitution was defined as the relevant data obtained during the last preceding census that has been published.
- The draft proposals of the Delimitation Commission are published in the Gazette of India, the official gazettes of the respective states and at least two national newspapers for public feedback.
- Public meetings are also organized by the Commission.
- After hearing the public, it considers the objections and suggestions received in writing or orally during the meetings and, if it considers necessary, makes changes in this regard in the draft resolution.
- The final order is published in the Gazette of India and the State Gazette and comes into force from a date specified by the President.
The Election Commission of India pointed out the fact that the earlier delimitations dissatisfied many political parties and individuals, and advised the government that all future delimitations should be done by an independent commission. The Delimitation Act was enacted in the year 1952. Delimitation commissions were constituted four times in the years 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002. After the census of 1981 and 1991, no Delimitation was done.
Disputes relating to the current delimitation process, such as:
- Population is the primary criterion for this process: states leading in population control have faced a lack of seats in the legislature. On the contrary, those states whose population is more, their number of seats are also more and thus they are controlling the politics of India and will continue to do so, but as a result those states which have made progress in population control are getting discouraged.
- Impact on Governance: Due to the low political weight, the states of the Northeast, which have a small population, are reportedly given less attention while formulating policies or plans. The policies are targeted at the states with more population like UP, Bihar.
- Representational Implications: It is highly likely that the next delimitation will be based on the 2031 census, which will increase the number of seats in Parliament. At that time it will be difficult to maintain the dignity of the House as a lot of disorder is being created due to the number of present members. A sudden increase in the number of members will make the work of the Speaker of the House more difficult and difficult.
With the increasing population, it will become difficult for the public representatives to address every issue of the public in their constituencies, and thus create a sense of grievance among the public which will undermine the spirit of democracy.
In view of the above identified issues, extensive consultation is required before starting the next delimitation exercise. Even in proposals for electoral reforms over the past decades, various commissions have recommended addressing these issues appropriately. In the near future our politicians will have to deal with these challenges.