The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice in a plea challenging the order issued by Union of India under section 10A of the Delimitation Act whereby the delimitation exercise in the State of Nagaland has been resumed based on a 2001 census.
A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramiun tagged the plea with another plea titled Brelithamarak V. Union of India which has challenged the decision of the Central Government to commence delimitation exercise in Assam. The same bench had on May 27 issued notice on this plea filed by two residents of Assam, alleging that the decision to conduct the pending process of delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies was not only a hasty decision but also stood contrary to the very idea behind conducting delimitation.
The instant writ petition has been moved by and organisation named Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO) which has been at the forefront of pursuing several legal remedies intended to protect the rights of its tribesmen. it has been filed on behalf of Dharmaprabhas Law Associates and drawn by Advocate Angshuman Sarma.
Averring that the impugned order which has resulted in the resumption of delimitation exercise in Nagaland is arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as well as section 8A of the Representation of People Act, 1950 as well as Articles 82, 170 and 371A of the Constitution. "The impugned order rescinds the earlier order dated 8.2.2008 by which the delimitation exercise in the State of Nagaland was deferred" the petitioner organisation states.
The census figures of the year 2001 were marred by several inconsistencies and fallacies, which had led to the deferment of delimitation in the earlier instance, the petition states, adding that the spirit of Article 82 demands that the latest census must be considered.
"According to reasoned estimates, the population of Nagaland could not have been more than 16 lakhs but the 2001 census recorded closed to 20 lakh population. This difference of 4 lakhs translates to an abnormal increase of 25% of the overall population. In comparison to the 1991 population of 12 lakhs, the census of 2001 showed a decadal growth of 64.41%" -- This the petitioner claims creates a serious impact on "proportionate representation" in a democratic setup and disturbs the existing balance of power.
Further to this, the plea contends that several studies have now shown that the abnormal increase reported in a few districts was primarily done with an intention to grab more assembly seats at the cost of other districts which consequentially creates a serious disparity in representation of various tribes.
"The proposed delimitation of the assembly seats was snatching away assembly seats from the tribal and hilly areas to the advantage of the valley district. The tribal districts/hilly districts are the biggest losers of the proposed delimitation exercise then" Excerpt of Plea
The petitioner-organisation avers that a decision calling for a fresh census was also taken by the Nagaland State Assembly on May 18 2005, which was was duly communicated by the Principal Secretary, Government of Nagaland to Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India on 22.8.2005 but the Delimitation Commission so appointed chose to finalise its report basis the 2001 census.
"Even while the entire state of Nagaland was against a process of delimitation based on 2001 census, the Delimitation Commission was on the verge of finalizing the report in respect of State of Nagaland"
In this backdrop, the plea seeks quashing of the Delimitation order dated February 28, 2020 or, alternatively, issue a writ of mandamus directing the delimitation exercise to be conducted based on the 2021 census figures.
The petitioner was represented by Raju Ramachandran, Sr. Adv. along with Advocates Chandrashekhar A. Chakalabbi, Angshuman Sarma, Anshul Rai, Shiv Kumar Pandey & Awanish Kumar.