|AIUDF questions State delimitation process in SC|
NEW DELHI, July 10 - Responding to a petition filed by the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to Centre and Assam government.
The AIUDF has questioned the exercise of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the State, saying it is proposed to be conducted on the basis of “stale figures” of Census 2001, seeking quashing of this year’s February 28 order which “rescinded” an earlier notification of February 8, 2008 that had deferred the process of delimitation for Assam.
A bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices R Subhash Reddy and AS Bopanna, was hearing a petition filed by AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam, seeking directions to quash the February 28 order published by the Ministry of Law and Justice as being unconstitutional on account of being violative of Fundamental Rights under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.
By a presidential order of February 28 an earlier order of February 8, 2008, which had deferred the process of delimitation for Assam, has been rescinded. It has been further decided to resume the process of delimitation of the Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies for Assam.
The AIUDF has submitted that the decision to conduct the pending process of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies stands contrary to the very idea behind conducting delimitation inasmuch as the present delimitation exercise is sought to be conducted on the basis of Census 2001, while Census 2011 has already been conducted and Census 2021 is under way.
The petitioners have further submitted that apart from being unjustified with regard to the conclusion of the NRC preparation for the State of Assam, one of the reasons why the same was deferred in 2008 was that Census 2001 was outdated.
The petitioner has further submitted that the delimitation proposed to be carried out will change the constituencies and will have an impact on the voting rights and preferences of large number of voters and candidates. As the data relied upon for the proposed delimitation is outdated and because the atmosphere in the State of Assam at present is not conducive for the said exercise, it is feared that many citizens may lose their right to vote if the exercise is carried out in the present scenario.
The plea has further alleged that the decision to conduct the pending process of delimitation in Assam “is not only an arbitrary and hasty decision but stands contrary to the very idea behind conducting delimitation, having proposed to be conducted not on the basis of the population figures obtained from the most recent Census but rather on the basis of stale figures of Census 2001”.
The plea alleged that ever since introduction of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 till the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, the State has seen widespread violent protests. It said the situation in Assam had grown so out of control that the entire State was declared as a “disturbed area” for the purposes of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 with effect from August 28 last year for a period of six months.
It said subsequently, the Assam government had declared the entire State as “disturbed area” up to six months beyond February 28 this year, unless withdrawn earlier. The plea has also sought a direction that delimitation in the State be deferred until the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise is completed in the State and Assam is relived form “disturbed area” by the competent authority.