Post Mortem

Humble Response to DAYO’s Letter

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/15/2020 10:47:36 PM IST

 From reading the letter written by the Dimapur Ao Youth Organisation (DAYO) published in the local dailies, two broad arguments from their letter have been drawn for the purpose of this write-up. Firstly, the number of constituencies in each state with regard to Lok Sabha and State Assembly Constituencies have been fixed till 2026 through different constitutional amendments vis 42nd amendment, 84th amendment, and 87th amendment. This is because even though the Constitution provided that the number of seats of Lok Sabha and State Assemblies should be adjusted after every decadal census, it was necessary to control population growth.

India’s population is expected to stabilize by 2026, by which time, redrawing of constituencies of both Lok Sabha and State Assemblies will take place with the next available census, namely, 2031 census. Secondly, drawing from the first argument, the territorial constituencies in Nagaland with respect to the state assembly cannot be redrawn as per the 84th amendment and 87th amendment. 

While the first argument is correct, in my humble opinion, the second argument is wrong. Let us look at the constitutional provisions and amendments step by step. Article 170 (2) provided that a state will be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, be the same throughout the State. 

Article 170 (3) further provided that upon the completion of each census, the total number of seats in the Legislative Assembly of each State and the division of each State into territorial constituencies shall be readjusted. Without 42nd amendment, this population would had meant 2011 census in our case. The 42nd amendment, 1976, done during the National Emergency, froze the number of seats in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies on the basis of 1971 census till 2001.

In 2001, the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government decided to postpone the delimitation again by 25 years. This it did through the 84th amendment, 2001. However, it provided that adjustment and rationalisation of seats within a state could take place by using 1991 census without increasing or decreasing the number of seats in a state. The 84th amendment thus provided two things:

1. Number of Lok Sabha and State legislative assembly seats in each state would remain as it was.

2. Adjustment and rationalisation of territorial Constituencies within the state would take place on the basis of 1991 census (this is the part DAYO missed out - deliberate or oversight). For the second provision, since the 2001 census was already out, the question then was “why use 1991 census which was already outdated?” This is where 87th amendment kicked in.

The 87th Amendment Act of 2003 provided for the adjustment and rationalisation of constituencies on the basis of 2001 census and not 1991 census as provided under 84th Amendment, 2001. Thus, adjustment and rationalisation of constituencies is not “unknown” as argued, nor is it “highly illegal and unconstitutional”.

Let’s come back to article 170: “Each State shall be divided into territorial constituencies in such manner that the ratio between the population of each constituency and the number of seats allotted to it shall, so far as practicable, BE THE SAME THROUGHOUT THE STATE”. At present, this provision of Art 170 is being violated in Nagaland.

Chothazo Nienu, Hyderabad

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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