IMPHAL: The Supreme Court has provided another leeway to the Manipur government and others to make rectifications to their reports on delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in their respective states which were forwarded to the Delimitation Commission some months back.
The apex court passed the order as a last chance to the states to file their replies in connection with a batch of pleas which have raised concerns over the delimitation. Some of the pleas submitted were related to issues concerning the delimitation process in Manipur and Nagaland.
Many organizations in the valley districts which had particularly opposed the Union government’s pressure on carrying out delimitation exercise based on the 2001 population census has termed the order as a golden opportunity for the administration to review the content in its earlier report and undo the irreparable progression of injustice from being committed from what they regarded as a flawed census. Though there is nothing certain on the real recommendation made by the administration in its report on the issue that was forwarded to the delimitation commission as it is a classified material, it has not done enough to allay the concerns and apprehensions that are occupied in their thoughts. Many districts in the valley are bound to lose assembly seats to the gain of the hill districts. In actuality had the Union government not gone ahead and rescind its order made in 2008, the state of Manipur was to face the delimitation after the first census taken after 2026.
The opponents of the current delimitation are debating the rationale of the Union government order stating that the loss or gain of seats will not be acceptable if the delimitation goes ahead on the virtue of an incorrect census. Instead, the government should wait for a fair census for an exercise which is favorable to all to be implemented and the resultant changes to be affected.
The union government had issued a fresh order invalidating an earlier decision deferring delimitation process in Manipur along with three other northeastern states including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland after the sudden change in Jammu and Kashmir’s constitutional status that necessitated delimitation there. The reasons that prompted the Centre to conduct the exercise in other states where it could not be completed after the 2001 Census are also still unclear.
On the other hand, there were many objections for conducting the delimitation exercise just before the next census and particularly in the middle of a pandemic, declaring it as both wrong from administrative and legal perspectives.
Another reason for stopping the delimitation in Manipur was due to concerns about the breakdown of law and order if what was regarded by a section as flawed census data were used. However, though the improvement of law and order was referred to in connection with the fresh exercise, there is silence on the quality of the 2001 census, which had made many people still unsatisfied.
In the previous Census Data of 2001 and 2011, there were claims over unacceptable multiple times growth rate while not classifying the gender population and non ST population in comparison with the previous census data of 1991 and 2001 of 9 divisions of Manipur namely Mao Maram, Paomata, Purul, Saitu Gamphazol, Chakpikarong , Machi, Chandel HQ Kasom Khullen and Moreh.
Under the Delimitation Act of 2002, in the year 2008, the delimitation Commission of India dropped out the delimitation process of Manipur by acknowledging the dubious multiplication of population on the data of census of 2001 at these sub-divisions and freeze the delimitation until the year 2026 which is to be operated after a fresh census of 2021.