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The Supreme Court of India

Guwahati: The Delimitation Demand Committee for the North Eastern states (DDCNE) of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur have filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India and the same has been admitted vide Diary No.12880 of 2022, titled, “Delimitation Demand Committee for the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur & Nagaland in North East India Vs. Union of India.

According to a statement released by the DDCNE, the Supreme Court had, on July 25, 2022, issued a notice in the PIL seeking directions to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to conduct delimitation exercise delimitation of Parliamentary and State Assembly Constituencies in the four North Eastern states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur as per the Representation of People’s Act, 1950.

The Supreme Court has also granted the Petitioners (DDCNE) the liberty to serve notices to the Standing Counsels of the four NE states, the statement added.

The Presidential order dated February 28, 2020, allowed for conducting delimitation exercise in the said four NE states, and subsequently, although the Government of India by a notification issued on March 6, 2020, had constituted a Delimitation Commission for delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir and the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland.

According to the statement, though retired Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai was appointed as the Chairperson, unfortunately, the exercise was restricted only to Jammu and Kashmir. Relying on the said order, the petitioner(s) DDCNE had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India for the implementation of the Delimitation Act, 2002 in these four states in 2021 and 2022 but has not received any response.

The plea of DDCNE in the PIL is that selectively denying delimitation to the said four NE states while the same exercise was being conducted in the rest of India, violates the fundamental right under Article 14 of the Constitution.

It was also submitted in the petition that, “It has been already two decades since the Delimitation Act, 2002 was amended and no delimitation exercises have been conducted in the four North-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland nor under Section 8A of the Representation of Peoples Act in the name of law-and-order problems.

However, since 2002 it is to be noted that various parliamentary and state assembly elections have been conducted successfully in these four North Eastern states without any issue of law-and-order problems.

In all fairness, these four northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland deserved equal treatment per-se with the rest of India and the delimitation exercise ought to be conducted at the earliest either by constituting a commission under the Delimitation Act, 2002 or through the Election Commission under Section 8A of Representation of Peoples Act as there is no justifiable reason that exists for not conducting delimitation.

“Therefore, the people of the four NE states have exhausted all available remedies as all our petitions and memorandums to the authorities concerned have fallen on deaf ears. Our only available hope is now to knock on the door of the court to deliver justice to the people of these four NE states as all other government machineries have failed to do so. Hence, the filing of PIL in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” the statement concluded.

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