SUPREME COURT TO HEAR CHALLENGE AGAINST ASSAM DELIMITATION IN MARCH

The Supreme Court in the case Brelithamarak & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors observed that the delimitation exercise that the government has reinitiated in the state of Assam is being conducted in the backdrop of political disturbance, with the multiple districts which is being notified as disturbed and the consequent extension of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 to those districts, Senior Advocate Maneka Guruswamy appearing before the Supreme Court told while assailing the process of delimitation of the assembly and parliamentary constituencies that was started by the Election Commission in December last year. The Division bench comprising of Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Dipankar Datta was hearing a writ petition wherein challenging a February 28 presidential order revoking a 2008 notification that had deferred the process of delimitation for the states of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh wherein citing security issues Before the Court, the senior counsel asked, “When over 30 per cent of a state is being declared to be disturbed, will you conduct a delimitation exercise, especially when the process of drafting 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?” An objection has been taken by Guruswamy to the initiation of the delimitation exercise ‘through a press note’. The Guruswamy asked that, ‘Can the process of delimitation by issuing a press note? Does our constitution allow this?”. Therefore, the Election Commission announced the initiation of the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies on December 28 in Assam on the basis of 2001 census figures. Thus, a ban was also put in place on the creation of new administrative units in the state till the completion of the exercise with effect from January 1. It has been stated by Additional Solicitor-General Sanjay Jain that the basic prayer has become infructuous and nothing survives in this matter, while pointing out that unless the fresh exercise is being concluded no cause of action would arise to assail it in a court of law. The court while noting that the pleadings had not been completed and the Union of India was yet to file a reply. Therefore, the last delimitation exercise in the state was conducted in 1976, wherein using the 1971 census figures for the readjustment of seats. Accordingly, the bench posted the matter after 6 weeks, the bench granted liberty to file objections to the petitions, rejoinder, if any, and additional documents.

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