(Articles 243C and 243R of the Constitution of India. Section 10 of KPR Act, Section 69 of KM Act)
A Panchayat/ Municipality is a body corporate comprised of members/ councillors chosen by Direct election. For this purpose the Panchayat/ Municipal area is divided into territorial constituencies (to be known as wards for Municipalities and constituencies for Panchayats). Delimitation is the process of dividing Panchayats and Municipalities into as many constituencies or wards as there are seats (member/councillors) and fixing or refixing of the boundaries of the territorial constituencies for electing members.
A re-delimitation is necessary whenever a change is brought to the number of seats in the Panchayats or Municipalities on the following grounds.
i. Refixing the no.of seats in Panchayats and Municipalities in consideration of the population of the area, as per the census figures.
ii. Refixing the minimum or maximum seats in a Panchayat/ Municipality.
iii. Alteration or conversion of a Panchayat/ Municipal area.
The power to divide the Panchayats and Municipalities into as many constitutions or wards as there are seats to re-delimit their boundaries was formerly vested in the State Election Commission. A Delimitation Commission consisting of the State Election Commissioner as Chairman and four officers not below the rank of the Secretary to Government as members was constituted, by amendments to the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and Kerala Municipality Act, in 2005 and the function of delimitation in entrusted to this Commission.
Quorum of the Meetings of the Commission is minimum three members including the Chairman. In discharging the function, the Commission have certain powers of a civil court in summoning and examining the witnesses, requiring production of documents, taking evidence on affidavit, and in requiring a public record or copy of it. The Commission issues guidelines regarding fixing of boundaries.
The Secretary to the Commission shall be an officer, not below the rank of a Joint Director of the Panchayat/ Municipality.
Procedure for Delimitation
The Commission shall issue draft notification, fixing the boundaries on the basis of the information collected from the Panchayats and Municipalities through the District Election Authority (District Collector). Above notification will be published inviting objection and suggestion.
Objection or suggestion can be given before the Secretary to the Commission either directly or by registered post. Self attested copies of documents may also be produced along with the above.
The Commission may summon any officer under the State Government for collecting information, if any, required for the disposal of the objections/ suggestions. It can also summon any person including the person or person filed objection as witness and request him to produce the connected documents/records.
Decision will be taken on the objection and suggestion, after verifying the same on the basis of the information and personal hearings, if necessary.
The Commission has to ensure that, as far as practicable, the population of each constituency/ward in a Panchayat/Municipality shall be equal.
Every order issued by the Delimitation Commission with regard to delimitation of constituencies shall be published in the Gazette and shall have the force of law