TODAY -

Fourth delimitation in Manipur: An impact analysis

Prof RK Narendra Singh *



Decision rooted false documents ended everything. People never realize significance of decision until it turns erroneous.

Abstract

Delimitation exercise is mandatory for representative democracy making territorial grouping of proportionate peoples by fixing or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body.

Since 1952, 1963 and 1973, the delimitations of the entire country conducted under the relevant Delimitation Commission Acts are based on respective immediate preceding census’s figures. Thereafter such regular exercise deferred supposed to base on the following two decadal censuses but the fourth one had on the row in 2002, except in four northeastern states i.e., Assam, Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, based on Census 2001.

The main reason for deferment of delimitation was disproportionate population sizes over the states of India that was mainly due to indifference of Family Planning Programs (FPF) performance within and between States and Union territories.

If delimitation exercise were performed based on Census 1981 and 1991, the outcomes might be creating havoc among the states especially between South and North blocks as the former might had lose their seats in the Parliament due to decreasing population as adopting FPP effectively while antagonistically the latter gain the seats due to high fertility during the decades.

The decision to differ is fully justified that upholds the objective of delimitation of constituencies i.e., proportionate political representation of region, caste, minority, etc., in policy making bodies. The reason why four North Eastern states were left out in fourth Delimitation of India was the security issues, and the another undisclosed one was the Foreigner Issues in Assam (1979-1985) due to influx of illegal migrants.

If it had happened, Assam might have largely lost its political representation of sons of the soil. In Manipur there was a public hue and cry against unreliability of Census 2001 figure as nine sub-divisions of the three hill districts had far beyond natural population growth. And eventually the matter was also heard in the Courts of Law.

Finally,the Census Authority of India adjusted only the controversial population figures of the three sub-divisions of Senapati district in their final Census Report 2001.

Indeed, there is no chance of classifying the adjusted figures in terms of census parameters considered like age, caste, religion, village, fertility, mortality, migration, etc., and thus the final Census Report 2001 of Manipur was published after excluding the population of the controversial three sub-divisions – Mao-Maram, Paomata and Purul – of Senapati district.

It is very much loud and clear that the Census 2001 figure of Manipur is not reliable . The Central Government deferred the exercise in four NorthEastern states by Notification bearing S.O.283 (E) dated,8th February 2008 deferring the process of delimitation for the four North-eastern states

Secondly, as the 84th Amendment Act of 2001 have frozen the total number of seats in Look Sabha and State Assemblies the result of the fourth Delimitation Commission could not increase in Lok Sabha’s and State Assemblies in proportion to the population increase as per Census 2001. The freezing of seats would remain until 2026.

Then the public outburst of hue and cry turned into melody song for the last 18 years since the 84th Amendment Act made in 2002. Now the same story is set to replay as the Government has cancelled its earlier Notification (S.O.283 (E) dated, 8th February 2008) which deferred delimitation by an Order No. 903 (E) dated 28th February 2020.

Moreover,the Government constituted the Delimitation Commission for delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland under section 3 of the Delimitation Act, 2002.

The Commission will delimit the constituencies of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, base on Census 2011 (latest one) instead of 2001 and of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland in accordance with the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 2002.

Under the Delimitation Act, 2002, the commission would make only readjust the division of each state and union territory into territorial constituencies for the purpose of Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections based on Census of 2001(old one).

Now the question arises whether the forthcoming delimitation exercise in Manipur would give proportionate political representation especially in State Legislative Assembly, as the Census 2001 figure of Manipur is counterfeit as well as excluded population of three sub-divisions in the final total population of Census 2001 (a details, specially caste, is necessitated while entitlement calculation for assembly seats).

The crux of the matter calls for the present article is to analyze the impact of delimitation in Manipur under the Delimitation Act, 2002 demographically. It shows that through the forthcoming delimitation, four unreserved (UR) entitlement assembly seats go to reserved seats of scheduled tribe (ST); and the existing three valley seats would be added to their counterpart hill districts.

Besides, the finding suggests that the proposed exercise base on Census 2001 is inconsistent and unjustified technically.

Secondly, the Delimitation Commission of India is a high power and independent body and therefore constitutionally whatsoever their Orders after completion of the process cannot be challenged even to the Courts of Law and therefore only option left is to make delimitation defer until a fresh and reliable census enumeration take place, likely to be based on Census 2031 figures.

Key Words: Delimitation Commission of India; Census 2001; Parliament & Assembly seats

Introduction:

Delimitation simply means to sketch out, drawing or tracing the boundaries of the various Lok Sabha and assembly constituencies with the main objective of making the proportionate political representation in policy making bodies like in the Parliament and in the concerned State Legislative Assemblies and eventually formulates equal population representation from every seat.

The process of delimitation is performed by the Delimitation Commission or the Boundary Commission of India which is a commission established by the Government of India under the provisions of the Delimitation Commission Act.The Commission of India is a high power and independent body whose orders cannot be challenged even to the Courts of law.

These orders come into force on a date to be specified by the President of India. The copies of its orders would be laid before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible.

In the past, there were four Delimitation Commissions in the country viz., in 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952, in 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962, in 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.

However, in 1976 the Central Government had deferred delimitation process until after the 2001 Census so that states’ family planning programs would not affect their political representation in the Lok Sabha. During the Emergency, through 42nd Amendment to Indian Constitution the government froze the total Parliamentary and Assembly seats in each state until 2001 Census.

Due to the imbalanced performance of family planning programs during and after the Emergency over the states, it might led to large discrepancies in the size of constituencies, with the largest having over three million electors, and the smallest less than 50,000.

For instance, the states which had implemented family planning widely like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Punjab would stand to lose many parliamentary seats representation while states with poor family planning programs and higher fertility rates like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan would unfavorably gain many of the seats transferred from better performing states.

The present delimitation of parliamentary constituencies has been done based on Census 2001 figures under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002. However, the Constitution of India was specifically amended as 84th Amendment in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies until the first census after 2026.

Thus, the present constituencies carved out on the basis of 2001 census shall continue to be in operation till the first census after 2026 and therefore total number of seats in each state is froze till 2026.


* Prof RK Narendra Singh wrote this article for Imphal Times and The Sangai Express
The writer is a renowned Demographer, and HOD of Biostatistics, RIMS, Imphal
This article was webcasted on June 10 2020.



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