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Challenge Against Assam Delimitation To Be Heard By Supreme Court In March

Awstika Das
21 Jan 2023 3:49 PM GMT
Challenge Against Assam Delimitation To Be Heard By Supreme Court In March

The delimitation exercise that the government has reinitiated in the state of Assam is being conducted in the backdrop of political disturbance, with multiple districts being notified as disturbed and the consequent extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 to those districts, Senior Advocate Maneka Guruswamy told the Supreme Court on Friday while assailing the process of delimitation of the assembly and parliamentary constituencies that was started by the Election Commission in December last year. A division bench comprising Justices Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta was hearing a plea challenging a February 28 presidential order revoking a 2008 notification that had deferred the process of delimitation for the states of Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh citing security issues. The senior counsel asked, “When over 30 per cent of a state is declared to be disturbed, will you conduct a delimitation exercise, especially when the drafting process of the final National Register of Citizens is still underway and at least two million Assamese have claimed that they have been excluded from the register?”

Guruswamy also took objection to the initiation of the delimitation exercise ‘through a press note’. “Can you begin the delimitation process by issuing a press note? Does the constitution allow this?” Guruswamy asked. On December 28, the Election Commission announced the initiation of the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Assam on the basis of 2001 census figures. With effect from January 1, a ban was also put in place on the creation of new administrative units in the state till the completion of the exercise.

“The basic prayer has become infructuous and nothing survives in this matter,” said Additional Solicitor-General Sanjay Jain, pointing out that unless the fresh exercise is concluded, no cause of action would arise to assail it in a court of law. However, noting that the pleadings had not been completed and the Union of India was yet to file a reply, the bench directed the matter to be posted after six weeks. Meanwhile, liberty was granted to file objections to the petitions, rejoinder, if any, and additional documents.

The last delimitation exercise in the state was conducted in 1976, using the 1971 census figures for the readjustment of seats.

Case Title

Brelithamarak & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 454 of 2020] and other connected matters

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