Delimitation Exercise of Assam


    In News

    • Recently, the Election Commission of India has begun the process of delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies in Assam.

    More about the news

    • About delimitation exercise in Assam:
      • About:
        • The last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done on the basis of census figures of 1971 by the then Delimitation Commission in 1976.
        • In March 2020, the Centre notified a Delimitation Commission for Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
      • Mandate:
        • Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act allows for the delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur or Nagaland.
      • Status of Population:
        • In 1971, Assam’s population was 1.46 crore. 
        • In 2001, it increased to 2.66 crore and to 3.12 crore in 2011.
      • Status of current representation:
        • The State has 14 Lok Sabha, 126 Assembly and seven Rajya Sabha seats.
        • The term of the current Assam Legislative Assembly will end on May 20, 2026. 
    • EC’s process & directives:
      • The process will be based on Census data from 2001.
      • During the delimitation exercise, the Commission will consider the following things:
        • The physical features, 
        • Existing boundaries of administrative units, 
        • Facility of communication, 
        • Public convenience and 
        • As far as practicable, the constituencies will be kept as geographically compact areas.
      • The EC also issued a directive banning the creation of new administrative units in the state with effect from January 1 next year until completion of the delimitation exercise in the state.
    • Issues & criticisms:
      • The state Opposition is questioning why the delimitation exercise is being done on the basis of the 2001 Census, and not the 2011 Census.
        • According to critics, the 2011 Census figures are available and the 2021 Census process must also be accounted for to conduct the delimitation process.
      • Concerned Pressure Groups opined to stop the delimitation till the NRC is final. 
    • EC’s response:
      • As mandated under Article 170 of the Constitution, census figures (2001) shall be used for the purpose of readjustment of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies in the State. 
      • Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will be provided as per Articles 330 & 332 of the Constitution of India.

    More about the Delimitation Commission: 

    • About:
      • The Delimitation Commission in India is a high-power body whose orders have the force of law.
      • Its orders cannot be called in question before any court.
      • These orders come into force on a date to be specified by the President of India on this behalf.
      • The copies of its orders are laid before the House of the People and the State Legislative Assembly concerned, but no modifications are permissible therein by them.
    • Constitutional Provisions:
      • Article 82: This provides the Parliament with the authority to enact a Delimitation Act after every Census.
      • Article 170: This provides for the  States to get divided into territorial constituencies as per the Delimitation Act after every Census.
    • Functions:
      • To determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
      • Identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes wherever their population is relatively large.
      • In case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the will of majority prevails.
    • Composition:
      • The Delimitation Commission is appointed by the President of India includes following members:
      • Retired Supreme Court judge
      • Chief Election Commissioner
      • Respective State Election Commissioners.
    • Frequency:
      • In India, such Delimitation Commissions have been constituted 4 times:
      • In 1952 under the Delimitation Commission Act, 1952
      • In 1963 under Delimitation Commission Act, 1962
      • In 1973 under Delimitation Act, 1972
      • In 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.

    National Register of Citizens (NRC)

    • A register: 
      • National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register prepared after the conduct of the Census of 1951 in respect of each village, showing the houses or holdings in serial order and indicating against each house or holding the number and names of persons staying therein. 
    • Census of 1951: 
      • These registers covered each and every person enumerated during the Census of 1951 and were kept in the offices of Deputy Commissioners and Sub Divisional Officers according to instructions issued by the Government of India in 1951.
      • Later these registers were transferred to the Police in the early 1960s.
    • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA): 
      • This NRC was prepared under a directive from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

    NRC in Assam 

    • At present, only Assam has such a register and the exercise may be extended to other states as well. 
    • List of Indian citizens living in the state: 
      • The NRC in Assam is basically a list of Indian citizens living in the state. The citizens’ register sets out to identify foreign nationals in the state that borders Bangladesh.
      • The reason behind the move was to identify Indian citizens in Assam amid “unabated” migration from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). 
    • The Centre has been pushing for NRCs in every state: 
      • Nagaland has already started an exercise to create a similar database of citizens known as the Register of Indigenous Inhabitants.

    Source: IE