SC Refuses to Interfere with Assam Delimitation Exercise, Issues Notice to Centre and EC on Constitutionality


NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court on Monday refused to interfere with the draft delimitation proposal published by the Election Commission in relation to Assam on a plea filed by leaders of various opposition parties of the state.

A bench, headed by CJI D.Y. Chandrachud and comprising Justices J.B. Pardiwala and Manoj Misra, issued notice, seeking response of the Union government, the Election Commission, and others on the question of constitutionality of Section 8A of the Representation of People Act, 1950.

“The constitutional challenge before this court merits scrutiny. Issue notice,” the bench said.

It directed the Union and EC to file their response within three weeks and granted a period of two weeks thereafter for filing rejoinder.

“When delimitation has commenced, having due regard to the issuance of the draft proposal of June 2023, it would not be proper to interdict the process. Hence while reserving the constitutional challenge, we are not issuing any orders restraining the Election Commission to take any further steps,” it added.

The plea, filed through advocate Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, challenged the constitutional validity of Section 8A of the Representation of People Act, 1950 on the grounds that the same is arbitrary, opaque and discriminatory to the state of Assam.

Purportedly, the EC issued the delimitation proposal in exercise of its power under Section 8A, which prescribes the Election Commission as the authority to conduct delimitation in Assam and three northeastern states.

“Delimitation for the rest of the country has been carried out by a high-powered body headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge and such a commission was formed for Jammu & Kashmir as well. However, the provision of Section 8A discriminates against Assam and three northeastern States, for which the Election Commission has been prescribed as the authority to conduct delimitation,” the plea stated.

The petition also questioned the methodology adopted by the EC by taking different average assembly size for different districts contending that population density has no role to play in the process of delimitation.

In its draft order issued on June 20 this year, the Election Commission proposed readjusting the extent of 126 Assembly and 14 Lok Sabha Constituencies in Assam. The delimitation proposal has sparked protests from nearly all of the opposition parties in the state. The petitioners included Lurinjyoti Gogoi (Assam Jatiya Parishad), Debabrata Saikia, Rokibul Hussain (both Congress), Akhil Gogoi (Raijor Dal), Manoranjan Talukdar (CPI-M), Ghanakanta Chutia (Trinamool Congress), Munin Mahanta (CPI), Diganta Konwar (Anchalik Gana Morcha), Mahendra Bhuyan (Nationalist Congress Party) and Swarna Hazarika (Rashtriya Janata Dal).

Reportedly, the draft delimitation proposal had sparked intense hostility in Karimganj, Goalpara, Hailakandi and Barpeta districts, which are heavily populated by minorities. -IANS


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