J&K delimitation orders have acquired the ‘force of law’

J&K delimitation orders have acquired the ‘force of law’

News: The Home Ministry and the Election Commission of India (ECI) have both agreed in the SC, that delimitation orders of redrawing Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir have acquired the “force of law”.

Background:
• A petition was filed by a Srinagar resident which challenged the constitution of Delimitation commission on March 6, 2020.
• The issue raised in petition stated that the increase in the number of Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir was unconstitutional and ultra vires the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.
• Also, questions were raised that why was J&K being singled out for delimitation when the next exercise in the country would have only been taken up after 2026.

What was government’s response?
• The Centre has mentioned that it derives its powers to form, and fix the scope and tenure of the Delimitation Commission under Section 3 of the Delimitation Act of 2002, which is a ‘special legislation’.
• The centre also stated that full opportunity was given to members of public to make oral and written submissions to the delimitation commission.
• The government also added that the delimitation order cannot be “re-agitated” in a court once it had gained finality by publication in the gazette. Hence, after notification in the official gazette, redrawing Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir have acquired the “force of law”.

What is Delimitation commission?
• Delimitation is the act of fixing or redrawing the limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies (Assembly or Lok Sabha seat) in a country or a province having a legislative body, as per the Election Commission.
• The delimitation exercise is carried out by an independent high-powered panel known as the Delimitation Commission whose orders have the force of law and cannot be questioned by any court.
• Delimitation Commissions had been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002.
• Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
• Under Article 170, States also get divided into territorial constituencies as per the Delimitation Act after every Census.
• The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India and works in collaboration with the Election Commission of India.

Composition of Delimitation Commission:
• Retired Supreme Court judge
• Chief Election Commissioner
• Respective State Election Commissioners
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