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SC junks challenge to J&K delimitation: what did the petitioner, Centre argue?

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

 

Source: IE

 Context: The SC dismissed a plea challenging the delimitation exercise to redraw Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies in the Union Territory of J&K.

  

Background:

  • A challenge to the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019, is pending before the apex court, along with other petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or LS seat to represent changes in population over time.
  • A commission set up by the Central government submitted its final report for delimitation in J&K last year.
  • It has been recommended that the number of seats in the J&K Assembly should be raised from 83 to 90.

  

Arguments of the petitioner:

  • After the notification of the Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Delimitation Order, 2008, only the Election Commission of India could have undertaken the exercise.
  • The delimitation exercise violates Article 170 of the Constitution, under which constituencies shall remain frozen till the first census is conducted after the year 2026.
  • The increase in seats violates provisions of Articles 81, 82, 170, 330, and 332 of the Constitution, and Section 63 of the 2019 Act.

 

Arguments of the Centre:

  • The J&K Reorganisation Act 2019 mandates the setting up of a commission for the exercise.

 

Delimitation exercise:

Legal/constitutional provisions:

●        Article 82: Following each census, the allocation of Lok Sabha seats to the states, as well as the division of each state into territorial constituencies, shall be readjusted by such authority as Parliament may by law determine.

●        Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950: It allows for delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur or Nagaland.

●        Article 170 (Composition of the Legislative Assemblies): Census figures (2001) shall be used for the purpose of readjustment of constituencies in the State.

●        Reservation of seats for the SCs/STs will be provided as per Articles 330 (Lok Sabha) and 332 (State Assemblies) of the Constitution.

 

Delimitation Commission:

●        Delimitation is the responsibility of a high-level body known as the Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be challenged in court.

●        Article 82 of the Indian Constitution provides for the establishment of such a commission through a Parliamentary act.

●        The orders will take effect on a date to be determined by India’s President.

 

 

 

Insta Links:

‘Voter islands’ after J&K delimitation exercise