Jamiat challenges delimitation exercise in Assam ; SC notice to Center and election commission on the issue

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After NRC failed, another ploy to undermine political strength on Muslims in Assam as 19 lakh people were excluded from the Citizenship list.

By Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from the Central government, Election Commission of India and the Assam government on the petition filed by Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind (M) questioning the exercise of delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in the state of Assam on the basis of old data of Census 200.  It also contended that the hasty decision of delimitation is motivated by the political consideration of the present government at the center and in Assam.

The petitioner, Maulana Mahmood Madani, General secretary,Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind,  argued that the decision to conduct the pending exercise of delimitation  was not only a hasty decision but also stood contrary to the main purpose of delimitation.

The whole affair smacked of a government ill-intention and it will not serve any purpose as it is based on the old data of Census 2001, he added.

The Jamiat challenged the promulgation of the Presidential Order bearing No. S.O. 903 (E) dated 28th February 2020, through which earlier Notification number S.O. 283 (E) dated 8th February 2008 deferring the process of Delimitation for the State of Assam, has been rescinded and it has been decided to resume the process of delimitation of the Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies for the State of Assam despite the fact the reasons for which the previous delimitation in 2008 was deferred are still prevailing in the State.

Earlier in 2002, on the representation of State of Assam, the process of delimitation of constituencies for the State of Assam was deferred in 2008 in the absence of true configuration of population in Assam and citing reasons of threat to peace, public order, and unity and integrity of India.

The petition argued that these issues for the purpose of Delimitation exercise in Assam have not been resolved so far, despite this fact, the exercise of Delimitation of constituencies has been resumed and the Ministry of Law and Justice also constituted the Delimitation Commission.

To carry out the exercise of Delimitation in State of Assam the situation is not conducive for the following reasons:

 

  1. Delimitation is to be carried out on the basis of the most recent Census and not on the basis of figures of 2001 Census as notified. Most recent Census 2021 is to be done next year in 2021.

 

  1. The preparation of the National Register of Citizens (in short ‘NRC’), Assam has not been finalized. More than 19 lakh persons have been excluded from NRC and they have to prove their citizenship before Foreigners Tribunals.

 

  1. Moreover, the NRC is being prepared on the basis of Section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, and vires of Section 6A itself are under challenge before this Court.

 

  1. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 was passed by the Parliament which resulted into widespread violent protest in the entire country including the State of Assam. Several organizations of Assam challenged the said before this Court which are still pending.

 

  1. Due to aggravated situation in view of exclusion of 19 lakhs people from NRC list and violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

After review situation, the State of Assam, citing reasons that due to the presence of extremist elements in certain parts of State and apprehension of law and order situation arose due to Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, the entire State of Assam was declared as a “disturbed area” for the purposes of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 with effect from 28.08.2019, for a period of six months, which was further extended for six months from 28.02.2020.

 

  1. The petitioner herein “Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind” also challenged the Constitutionality of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 before the Supreme Court.

 

  1. On January 27, the Government of India signed BTR (Bodoland Territorial Region) Accord with National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and All Bodo Students Union (ABSU), where the villages dominated by the Bodo’s that are presently outside the BTAD (Bodo Territorial Autonomous District) area, would be included in future and those with non Bodo population will be excluded, but till date no boundaries fixed/demarcated. The existing BTAD seats are expected to increase from 40- 60.

After hearing arguments the court issued notices to Government of India and other respondents i.e. Delimitation Commission and State of Assam directing to reply.

A political leader from Assam observed that the delimitation is another ploy to undermine and  the political presence of the second largest religious group in Assam as the NRC  exercise has already  watered down the ill-intention designs of communal forces.  He said the main intention of delimitation is to reduce the strength of Muslim-dominated  constituencies  in Assam thereby their political marginalization

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