Delimitation of Constituencies in Assam

The Election Commission of India (ECI) recently announced that it had commenced the process of delimitation of state assembly and parliamentary constituencies of Assam. The last delimitation in Assam happened in 1976. The current delimitation exercise is being conducted based on the 1971 Census.

What is the delimitation exercise?

  • Delimitation is the process of redrawing boundaries of state assembly seats and the Lok Sabha seats to represent the changing population numbers.
  • The main purpose of the delimitation exercise is to ensure equal representation to equal segments of a population.
  • Since the population does not increase uniformly, delimitation reflects the changes in the distribution of the population over a period of time.
  • In Assam, the population stood at 1.46 crore in 1971. In 2001, it has increased to 2.66 crore. The population did not increase uniformly across all areas of the state.

What is Delimitation Commission?

  • The Delimitation Commission is an independent commission responsible for conducting delimitation exercises.
  • It is set up by the Central Government under the Delimitation Commission Act.
  • This commission jointly works with the Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct the delimitation.
  • It includes a retired Supreme Court Judge, the Chief Election Commissioner and the respective state’s State Election Commissioners
  • It functions without any executive influence. Its orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as such actions would postpone elections indefinitely.

How is delimitation carried out?

Article 82 of the Constitution requires the Indian Parliament to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census. Once this Act is in force, the Central Government must set up a Delimitation Commission.

The Delimitation Commission is required to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in such a way that the population of all seats are same, as far as it is possible. It is also tasked with the identification of seats reserved for SCs and STs.

The Delimitation Commission, after completing the exercise, will release the draft proposals to receive public feedback. It will also organize public sittings, after which it considers the objections and suggestions to make the required changes.

The final order of the Delimitation Commission is published in the concerned Gazette of India. It will come to force on the date specified by the President of India.

Previous Delimitation exercises

A total of 4 Delimitation Commissions have been set up in the past (1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002). The delimitation exercises did not happen after the 2001 census.

The last delimitation exercise that changed the state-wise composition of the Lok Sabha happened in 1976. It was conducted based on the 1971 census.

The delimitation exercises was not conducted frequently in the recent past. This is because the Indian Constitution mandates that the number of Lok Sabha seats allocated to a state should be (as far as it is achievable) same for all states. This has an unintended consequence of those states that did not take measures to control the population getting larger number of seats in the Indian Parliament.

To address this issue, the Indian Constitution was amended in 1976 to suspend the delimitation until 2001. Another amendment was enacted to delay the delimitation exercise further until 2026, with the hope that India would achieve a uniform population growth rate by this time.

The 2002 Act did not make any changes in the total number of Lok Sabha seats or their apportionment between various states. It left out Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur from the delimitation exercise due to security concerns. The Indian Government reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for these 4 states and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in 2020.



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