As many as 11 opposition parties in Assam submitted a memorandum to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on Friday stating nine legal reasons of why they are opposing the proposed delimitation process in the state.
The memorandum was jointly submitted by Assam Pradesh Congress Committee, Raijor Dal, Assam Jatiya Parishad, Jatiya Dal, Assam Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United).
The following the legal reasons presented in the memorandum submitted by the 11 opposition parties of the state opposing delimitation exercise in Assam:
According to Section 9(1) (a) of the Delimitation Act, 2002, all the constituencies shall as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them regard shall be had to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communications and public convenience. Such an exercise can to start with, best be done by the Revenue Field Officers like Revenue Circle Officers (Assistant Electoral Registration Officers) and Deputy Commissioners/Collectors of districts concerned. We would like to know if the Draft Delimitation proposal for Assam published recently has been prepared on the basis of proposal sent by Revenue Circle Officers and Deputy Commissioners concerned to either the State Chief Electoral Officer or the Chief Election Commissioner of India under their signature and seal. If it has not been done so then the question arises who has prepared the draft proposal which the Election Commission has published either with some changes or no change at all. The nature of the draft proposal and the general feeling in the state has rightly or wrongly made many in Assam publicly alleging that the draft proposal has been prepared by the ruling BJP party in Assam under the direction of the Chief Minister. If the Deputy Commissioners and Revenue Circle Officers of the state say that they have prepared the materials on the basis of which the Election Commission of India has prepared the draft proposal then we can ask the Deputy Commissioners and Circle Officers of the state to disclose the materials and facts on the basis of which they prepared the grounds for changing the boundaries of Lok Sabha and Bidhan Sabha constituencies. In such a vital exercise there can be no room for secrecy. If necessary, we may approach the competent legal authority to call for official field records on the basis of which draft delimitation proposal has been prepared.
The delimitation process was deferred in three other north eastern states and J&K in 2008 considering the situation in those states. However, the Election Commission of India has recently completed the delimitation in Jammu and Kashmir using 2011 census data, which is normal. But we request you to give justification why in case of Assam for same delimitation process 2001 census data are used though 2011 census data for Assam are available. This deviation in case of Assam needs clarification.
The sudden demerger of four newly created districts of Assam by State Government with the parent districts just before the Election Commission banning creation of new administrative units apparently smacks of some conspiracy by the State Government of Assam for preparation of delimitation proposal in favour of the main ruling party.
As country wise delimitation process will be undertaken in 2026, the present proposed delimitation process in Assam, which appears suspicious, is not considered necessary at all now.
When the last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done in 1976 based on 1971 census data, the population taken into consideration was 146 lakhs. According to 2001 and 2011 census the population of Assam were respectively 266 and 312 lakhs. If in 2021 census would have been held Assam’s population might have been about 350 lakhs or so. Delimiting constituencies now based on 2001 census data means keeping about 100 lakhs people out of the delimitation process.
The proposed new constituencies should be of convenient geographical shape consistent with the aforesaid provisions of Section 9(1)(a) of Delimitation Act, 2002. The recently published draft is not a reflection of this sound and logical principle.
The Hon’ble President of India deferred the delimitation exercise in Assam on 08-02-2008 inter-alia on the ground that the NRC in respect of Assam is yet to be finished. The situation today is the same as was on 08-02-2008.
The matter relating to delimitation is pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court as the matter was challenged in a batch of petitions led by Writ Petition (Civil) No.454 of 2020. The matter has been listed for final hearing. The draft delimitation process should also wait for the final order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.