Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting with various political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi on June 24, 2021, where he backed the delimitation exercise and grassroots democracy in J&K.
This was the first such meeting after the withdrawal of Article 370 and the division of the erstwhile state into two union territories in August 2019.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his government’s commitment to fostering grassroots democracy in Jammu and Kashmir during his meeting with 14 leaders of eight mainstream political parties.
- At the meet, he sought their cooperation in first completing the delimitation exercise for Assembly seats in the Union Territory, which would eventually lead to elections.
- He assured them that his intent was to remove both “Dilli ki doori (distance from Delhi)” and “dil ki doori (distance of the heart)”.
- It was discussed that elections could only be held after the delimitation process was completed and there was general understanding on the roadmap from delimitation to elections and full statehood.
- Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to represent changes in population over time.
- This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned before any court.
- The objective is to redraw boundaries (based on the data of the last Census) in a way so that the population of all seats, as far as practicable, be the same throughout the State. Aside from changing the limits of a constituency, the process may result in change in the number of seats in a state.
How often has delimitation been carried out in J&K?
- Delimitation exercises in J&K in the past have been slightly different from those in the rest of the country because of the region’s special status — which was scrapped by the Centre in August 2019.
- Until then, the delimitation of Lok Sabha seats in J&K was governed by the Constitution of India, but the delimitation of the state’s Assembly seats was governed by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957.
- Assembly seats in J&K were delimited in 1963, 1973 and 1995.
- The last exercise was conducted by the Justice (retired) K K Gupta Commission when the state was under President’s Rule and was based on the 1981 census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996.