“Delimitation in NE states illegal,” Former EC Advisor

DY365
DY365
Published: July 17,2020 04:15 PM
DY365

Story highlights

July 17, 2020: Former advisor to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and delimitation expert S.K. Mendiratta has written to the Commission citing legal loopholes in the Centre’s move to carry out

July 17, 2020: Former advisor to the Election Commission of India (ECI) and delimitation expert S.K. Mendiratta has written to the Commission citing legal loopholes in the Centre’s move to carry out the delimitation exercise in four north-eastern states – for Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. 



 Calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal” S K Mendiratta, who served with the EC for over 50 years, wrote a letter to the three election commissioners last month, pointing out that the Law Ministry’s notification of March 6 violates the Representation of the People Act 1950.



Section 8A of the RP Act 1950, introduced by Parliament in 2008, states that delimitation in the four northeastern states, when held, would fall within the EC’s remit. Hence, any delimitation exercise in Arunachal, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland by the new Delimitation Commission would be “declared void by the courts” and, subsequently, result in “wastage of huge precious public funds”, Mendiratta wrote in his letter. 



In February, the Narendra Modi government rescinded a 2008 presidential order which had stalled the exercise by the Delimitation Commission in Assam, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. The Modi government’s move was to pave way for delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies of these states based on the 2001 Census. In March, the Delimitation Commission of 2002 was reconstituted to not only redraw constituencies in proportion to the population in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir as per the 2011 Census under the J&K Reorganisation Act 2019, but also in these NE states but with 2001 Census data under the Delimitation Act of 2002.



The 2001 Census data sets were heavily contested, mainly in Manipur and Nagaland, citing inaccuracies, leading the Gauhati high court to ask for a recount in Manipur which has not been done yet. While the then Nagaland cabinet rejected the data, the then Assam government had opposed the delimitation exercise of 2008 too as the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was yet to be completed in the state. Eventually, in a presidential order in 2008, the exercise was stalled in these states citing security reasons.





According to sources, the EC forwarded Mehndiratta’s letter to the Law Ministry about two weeks ago.



Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra, who represents the ECI at the Commission said that the letter “is being considered at the appropriate level”.



Meanwhile, the Centre’s decision to go ahead with the delimitation exercise with the 2001 data sets has already created uproar in various quarters in these states, ending in firming up of lines between various communities too in some.