Delimitation in Northeast

The Election Commission’s (EC) former expert, has red-flagged the Union government’s order setting up a Delimitation Commission for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, and Nagaland, calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

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Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and Assembly seats to represent changes in population. In this process, the number of seats allocated to a state may also change. 


  • In the last delimitation exercise, completed in 2008, Arunachal, Manipur, Assam, Nagaland were kept out due to apprehensions overuse of the 2001 Census. The Centre’s move to club the four with J&K comes in the backdrop of unrest in the region over CAA.
  • The objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation for equal population segments and a fair division of geographical areas so that no political party has an advantage. The Delimitation Commission’s orders cannot be questioned before any court.
  • Delimitation is done on the basis of the preceding Census. Following the Delimitation Commission Act in 1952, all such exercises have been conducted by Delimitation Commissions set up in 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002.
  • There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses. This was a fallout of the provision that the ratio between the number of Lok Sabha seats in a state and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states.
  • Although unintended, this meant that states that took little interest in population control could end up with more seats in Parliament, while the southern states that promoted family planning could end up with fewer seats. 
  • So, the last delimitation exercise between July 2002 and March 31, 2008, based on the 2001 Census, only readjusted boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of reserved seats.
  • Delimitation will only redraw the boundaries of seats in each state and can rework the number of reserved seats for SCs and STs. However, because of exceptional past circumstances, Jammu & Kashmir’s Assembly seats will now increase from 107 to 114, which is expected to increase Jammu region’s representation.

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