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Centre lists Bill for discussion in ensuing Monsoon Session
Kalyan Barooah
 NEW DELHI, Sept 11 - The Centre has listed a Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2020 for discussion in the ensuing Monsoon Session of Parliament to amend an electoral law to give legal backing to the recently-formed Delimitation Commission to redraw the constituencies of four Northeastern States, including Assam.

 A Parliamentary notification issued today said that the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend Section 8A of the principal Act will be introduced for consideration and passing.

The Centre has recently constituted the Delimitation Commission to redraw the boundaries of constituencies of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.

The Section so far allows only the Election Commission to conduct the delimitation exercise in the four States. The proposed amendment will allow the Delimitation Commission, an arm of the Election Commission, to conduct the exercise.

While the law ministry had notified the setting up of a Delimitation Commission in March this year for redrawing constituency boundaries of the four Northeastern States, the poll panel’s former legal advisor SK Mendiratta had red-flagged it saying that such a notification would be considered illegal as the Parliament only mandated the ECI to conduct delimitation in the four States as per Section 8A of the RP Act. The government agreed to the concerns raised by Mendiratta, sources said.

Taking note of the legalities involved, the law ministry is now moving the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to make the relevant changes in Section 8A.

Following the Delimitation Act of 2002, delimitation was conducted in all States on the basis of the 2001 Census except in the four Northeastern States where it was deferred due to security concerns.

In February, the government had cancelled its earlier notifications, which deferred delimitation in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh due to security issues, saying the exercise could be carried out “now” as the previous circumstances ceased to exist.

The order pointed out that a Delimitation Commission was set up under the Delimitation Act, 2002 to readjust the division of each State and Union Territory into territorial constituencies for the purpose of Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections on the basis of the Census 2001 figures.

The census date issue has also become contentious in the Northeastern States and it has been referred by the Delimitation Commission to the home ministry.

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha notification makes no mention about tabling of the rules of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 during the Monsoon Session. The home ministry had sought time from the Subordinate Legislature Committee to bring the rules before the Committee for discussion. As reported, the period for finalisation of the draft rules of CAA had expired after six months of the Presidential notification last December.

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