Fourth delimitation in Manipur: An impact analysis
Prof RK Narendra Singh
Contd from prev issue
To delimit the constituencies of the House of the People and Manipur State Legislative Assembly by the Delimitation Commission constituted by the Government of India is constitutional procedure, nobody can deny. However, the delimitation exercise would not violate the sanity of the core objectives of the delimitation so as making the proportionate political representation of the people. For that, time and again the process is based on the most recent Census figure (just preceding Census prior to delimitation) so as it might depict a very recent, correct and clean population figure. If such exercise performs base on old Census data (not representing present population) and/or incorrect Census data (representing war population), the outcome of the Commission could not ascertain an equal number of divisions of the real people in the Parliament and Assembly. Besides, the process stands contrary to the very idea behind conducting delimitation on the most recent and accurate Census data.Therefore, not only the whole exercises goes in vein but also it is another form of injustice against the spirit of representative democracy.The present argument is in agreement with the argument of the case against the impugned Order No. 903 (E) dated 28th February 2020 for delimitation in Assam in the Supreme Court bearing W.P. (C) No. 454 of 2020; and the case is already admitted by the Apex Court.
Manipur is not exception about the story of Census 2001. It is too old to represent a real scenario of the present population. Secondly, about the inconsistent data, in conjunction with the public outcry, the matter ran pillar to post and finally knocked to legal doors. It may be recalled that on Jan. 19, 2007 in connection with W. P. (PIL) No. 16 of 2005, the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench made with the following judgments:
“The respondents (authorities) are hereby directed to re-count the heads of the population in the 9 hill sub-divisions of the hill districts of Senapati, Ukhrul and Chandel of the State of Manipur for publishing another Census Report of India 2001 in respect of the said 9 hill sub-divisions and the present final Census Report of India 2001 for the said 9 hill sub-divisions of the 3 hill districts of Senapati, Ukhrul and Chandel shall not be taken as the Census Report of India 2001 for re-adjustment of number of seats and delimitation of constituencies of the State of Manipur under Sections 8 and 9 of the Delimitation Act 2002 by the Delimitation Commission”.
The judgment was challenged before the Supreme Court (SC) in SLP (C) No. 11813 of 2007 and during the pendency the Notification bearing S.O.283 (E) dated, 8th February 2008 came to defer the process of delimitation for the four North-Eastern states. After series of legal battles, all related cases were dismissed and disposed by the Apex Court on 21st August 2014 upholding the earlier Order dated, 8th February 2008.
There is a significant variation of fertility levels among ethnic groups of people: one community has average of around one child per couple or hardly two while other enjoying on an average of more than 5 children per couple. Thus, any delimitation or re-adjustmentof number of seats of constituenciestakes place in such situation it would deny right of the community who prefer small family norm that the Government of India encourages to achieved Millennium Development Goals. If it happens to continue there will be a fertility race among the communities. Keeping these in view, the Government of India had defered 4th Delimitation for a period of two decades (1981-1991) till 2001 which was supposed to be held twice just after the publications of Census 1981 and 1991. If it were happen timely,most of the parliamentary seats of states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Punjab would gone to UP, Bihar and Rajasthan since the former block has low fertility whilst very high fertility pertained to latter block. Still the fertility pattern is not uniform over the States and UTs of the country and therefore another amendment i.e., 84th Amendment froze the total number of seats in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. It would continue to freezing of seats till 2026. The reasonbehind is that as the sustainable population policy has been being implemented by the Governmentthen it is expected that uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by the year 2026. On this line the forthcoming delimitation and re-adjustmentof number of seats of constituencies in Manipur should also be deferred till 2026.
To be continued
The author of the article is a Renowned Demographer, and HOD of Biostatistics, RIMS, Imphal.