Editorial

Herculean task

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/23/2020 12:59:30 PM IST

 As delimitation exercises appears on the horizon, there is already heated discussions in Nagaland especially after the suspended delimitation exercise was deferred in 2008. It may be recalled that the delimitation of four north-eastern states was deferred due to security risks, by four separate presidential orders, all issued on February 8, 2008, for Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. The order regarding the four states was rescinded on February 28, 2020 by cancelling the order of February 8, 2008. The government of India has reconstituted the Delimitation Commission for these four states as well as the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on March 6, 2020, under the chairpersonship of former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Prakash Desai. Even if security concerns will no longer prove to be the hurdle; what is of interest is on the census figure that would have to serve as the basis. The present delimitation of constituencies has been done on the basis of 2001 census under the provisions of Delimitation Act, 2002. However, the Constitution of India was specifically amended in 2002 not to have delimitation of constituencies till the first census after 2026. The census of 2001 has been a contentious issue which has led to a debate among some districts. Some believe that a constituency should be based on the number of electorate and in which case, it could mean some districts losing one or more seats and some districts gaining one or more seats. Since the exercise was to be re-adjustments within a district, it appears that the debate over increase or decrease has jumped the gun. Nevertheless, there is no running away from the demand for fair and proportionate representation of seats based on population. The main contention remains the 2001 census which acts against accurate readjustment. The census figure for 2001 was 19,88,636 while the voter’s list was 11,92,084. The figure was “revised” by 2011 to 19,80,602 lakh while the voter’s list was 11,63,388. Currently, Nagaland’s population has climed to around 20,73,000 and the voter’s list climbing to 12,13,777. However, the delimitation exercise has met its first hurdle after a former legal advisor to the Election Commission (EC) has red-flagged the Centre’s order setting up a Delimitation Commission for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland, calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal”. S K Mendiratta, who served with the EC for over 50 years, wrote a letter to the three election commissioners last month, pointing out that the Law Ministry’s notification of March 6 violates the Representation of the People Act 1950. Mendiratta pointed out that Section 8A of the RP Act 1950, introduced by Parliament in 2008, states that delimitation in the four North Eastern states, when held, would fall within the EC’s remit. Hence, any delimitation exercise in the four states by the new Delimitation Commission would be “declared void by the courts” and, subsequently, result in “wastage of huge precious public funds” he said. At the home front, not only the 2001 census but also the voter’s list appears to be under cloud. Over two lakh names of bogus voters have been deleted from the Nagaland voters list since 2011, according to the state election department. Thus, over and above Mendiratta’s stand, delimitation in Nagaland will have to address the census and voter list and these will not be easy.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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