Assam’s delimitation exercise

The Election Commission plans to start delineating Assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Assam using 2001 census data.

Why are we debating this?

The last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done in 1976 by the then-Delimitation Commission using census figures from 1971.

What exactly is Delimitation?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing the boundaries of an Assembly or Lok Sabha seat to reflect population changes over time.
  • This exercise is carried out by a Delimitation Commission, whose orders have legal force and cannot be challenged in court.

Why is it required?

  • The goal is to redraw boundaries (based on the most recent Census data) so that the population of all seats is as uniform as possible throughout the state.
  • Aside from changing the boundaries of a constituency, the process may alter the number of seats in a state.

How is delimitation accomplished?

  • An independent Delimitation Commission is in charge of delimitation (DC).
  • After each Census, Parliament passes a Delimitation Act under Article 82.
  • When the Act takes effect, the Union government appoints a DC comprised of a retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner, and the respective State Election Commissioners.

Terms of reference for DC

  • The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in such a way that, to the greatest extent possible, the population of all seats is the same.
  • The Commission is also tasked with identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in areas with a sizable population.
  • All of this is done on the basis of the most recent Census, and if members of the Commission disagree, the majority’s opinion takes precedence.


  • The DC’s draught proposals are published in the Gazette of India, the official gazettes of the states involved, and at least two vernacular papers for public comment.
  • The Commission also holds open sessions.
  • Following public hearings, it considers objections and suggestions received in writing or orally during public sittings, and makes any necessary changes to the draught proposal.
  • The final order is published in the Indian Gazette and the State Gazette and takes effect on the date specified by the President.

How frequently has delimitation been performed in the past?

  • The President conducted the first delimitation exercise in 1950-51. (with the help of the Election Commission).
  • At the time, the Constitution was silent on who should be in charge of dividing states into Lok Sabha seats.
  • This delimitation was only temporary because the Constitution required redrawing of boundaries following each Census. As a result, another delimitation was required following the 1951 Census.
  • The EC advised the government that all future exercises should be carried out by an independent commission, citing the fact that the first delimitation had left many political parties and individuals dissatisfied.
  • This proposal was accepted, and the DC Act was passed in 1952.
  • Under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972, and 2002, DCs were established four times: in 1952, 1963, 1973, and 2002.

Why postponed till 2026?

  • Following the 1981 and 1991 Censuses, there was no delimitation.
  • Although the freeze on the number of Lok Sabha and Assemblies seats was supposed to be lifted after the 2001 Census, another amendment delayed this until 2026.
  • This was justified on the grounds that the country would achieve a uniform population growth rate by 2026.
  • As a result, the most recent delimitation exercise, which began in July 2002 and ended on May 31, 2008, was based on the 2001 Census and only readjusted the boundaries of existing Lok Sabha and Assembly seats as well as reworked the number of reserved seats.
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