Govt lists monsoon session bill to give legal backing to delimitation exercise in 4 NE states

The government has listed a bill for discussion in the upcoming 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.

The proposed “The Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2020” seeks to amend section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950, according to a Lok Sabha bulletin.

In March, the Law Ministry had notified the creation of a Delimitation Commission to redraw the Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies of Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

In June, former Election Commission legal expert S K Mendiratta told the poll panel that the notification was illegal as Parliament has mandated the EC to carry out the delimitation exercise in the four northeastern states under section 8A of the RP Act.

The EC forwarded the letter of Mendiratta to the Law Ministry.

The government agreed to the concerns raised by Mendiratta, sources aware of the development said.

Now, it is bringing a bill to amend the RP Act to allow the delimitation panel to carry out the exercise in the four northeastern states as an agency or arm of the EC, the sources said.

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 cease 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 figures of 2001.

The commission completed the delimitation exercise and the Delimitation Order, 2008 in respect of all the states, except these four northeastern states, it had said. Following this, it set up the Delimitation Commission to redraw the constituencies of the four northeastern states, along with those in Jammu and Kashmir.