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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Govt extends delimitation panel’s term by one year

After red flag, Northeastern states removed from mandate

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
March 5, 2021 4:24:33 am
Killing of Rajouri youths: Police chargesheet Captain, 2 civiliansThe extension given to the Delimitation Commission means another year’s delay in holding Assembly elections in J&K. (Express Photo/File)

THE UNION government on Thursday extended the Delimitation Commission’s term by a year and excluded the northeastern states from its mandate.

The Commission now has time till March 6, 2022, to redraw Jammu and Kashmir’s electoral constituencies. The extension, according to sources, was requested by the Commission since J&K’s Election Commissioner, who is also a member of the Commission, was appointed only on October 30 last year, following which he was busy with District Development Council polls in the Union Territory.

The extension given to the Delimitation Commission means another year’s delay in holding Assembly elections in J&K.

The decision to discontinue the delimitation exercise for Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Assam, and Nagaland comes almost eight months after S K Mendiratta, former legal adviser to the Election Commission, red-flagged the Centre’s order setting up a Delimitation Commission for the four northeastern states calling it “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

Mendiratta, who served with the Election Commission for over 50 years, had written a letter to the three election commissioners in June last year, pointing out that the Law Ministry’s notification of March 6 violates the Representation of the People Act 1950.

Section 8A of the Act, introduced by Parliament in 2008, states that delimitation in the four northeastern states, when held, would fall within the Election Commission’s remit. Hence, any delimitation exercise in Arunachal, Manipur, Assam and Nagaland by the new Delimitation Commission would be “declared void by the courts” and, subsequently, result in “wastage of huge precious public funds”, Mendiratta wrote in his letter.

Although the government had decided to amend the Representation of the People Act 1950 to give legality to its March 6 order, it now seems to have now abandoned the idea. According to sources, the apprehensions expressed in the northeastern states over using the 2001 Census for the delimitation exercise is another reason behind deferring it.

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