The outcome of Internal Delimitation Act 2002 in Manipur

The Central government and the state government together needs a holistic approach to solve the various issues faced by the hill people so that the hill people can enjoy the fruit of development and good governance.

The Outcome of Internal Delimitation Act 2002 in the State of Manipur

The Delimitation Act 2002 is an Act passed by Parliament for readjustment of the allocation of seats in the House of People for the states (Lok Sabha) and the number of seats in the Legislative Assembly (MLA Seats) of each state and Union Territories having Legislative Assembly. According to this Act, the number of seats in both Lok Sabha and State Legislatures is to be readjusted equally as per the population of the state in the 2001 Census. The general Delimitation i.e. by increasing of seats is to be done in 2026 as per the population in the 2021 Census. The Delimitation Commission does such work with the association of the Member of Parliament and MLAs of the state concerned as Associate Members. Under the 1st and 2nd Schedule of the Constitution of India (Allocation of seats in the House of the People) (total No of seats in the Legislative assembly) the adjustment of seats had been done in 24 states of the total 29 states of India bringing about certain changes in the number of seats of the General, Schedule Caste and Scheduled Tribe in these 24 states.

The Delimitation Commission in its letter No 282/MR/2003 dated May 27, 2003, under the Subject; “Delimitation of Constituencies of the state of Manipur- meeting to discuss Paper prepared on the basis of 2001 Provisional Census data- regarding”, addressed to the following persons, who were appointed as Associate members from the state of Manipur:-

1. Holkhomang Haokip-MP, 2. Th. Chaoba-MP, 3. O. Ibobi Singh-MLA, 4. Phungjathang Tonsing-MLA, 5. Gaikhangam-MLA, 6. R.K Dorendro-MLA, 7. Nimaichand Luwang-MLA

According to the paper, the population of Manipur was as under:

  1. Senapati: 3,79,214 (Provisional), 3,79,214 (Provisional)
  2. Tamenglong: 1,11,493 (Provisional), 1,11,499 (Final)
  3. Churachandpur: 2,28,707 (Provisional), 2,27,905 (Final)
  4. Chandel: 1,22,714 (Provisional), 1,18,327 (Final)
  5. Ukhrul: 1,40,946 (Provisional), 1,40,778 (Final)

Hills total: 983074 (Provisional), 8,82,130 (Final)

Valley total: 14,05,560 (Provisional),14,11,766(Final)

Imphal East: 393780 (Provisional), 3,94,876 (Final)

Imphal West: 4,39,532 (Provisional), 4,44,382 (Final)

Bishnupur: 2,05907 (Provisional), 2,08368 (Final)

Thoubal: 3,66,341 (Provisional), 364,140 (Final)

Total for the whole state was 23,88,634 (Provisional) and 22,93,896 (Final)

As per the Provisional Census of 2001 the allotment of Assembly seats should be:

District- Imphal East – 10(-) against existing No. of seats-11

District Imphal West -11(-2) against existing No. of seats – 13

District Thoubal - 9(-1) against existing No. of seats - 10

District Bishnupur 5(-1) against existing No of seats – 6

District Churachandpur 6, existing No. of seats – 6

District Senapati - 9(+3) against existing No. of seats - 6

District Ukhrul - 4(+1) against existing No of seats - 3

District Tamenglong – 3, Existing No. of seats – 3

District Chandel - 3(+1) against Existing No. of seats – 2

Total - 60 seats

But the state government, citing abnormal growth of population in the last 10 years, sought count of census in Mao-Maram, Paomata, Saitu  Gamphazowl and Purul the Sub-divisions of Senapati District, Machi, Moreh and Chakpikarong, the sub-divisions of Chandel District, Churachandpur the sub-division of Churachandpur District, and Kasom Khulen, the sub-division of Ukhrul District. Accordingly, the Home Department was instructed to conduct a Household Demographic Survey for which the Economics and Statistics was to prepare the format and assisted by the Deputy Commissioners.

But it seems the survey was not successful. Then, a Cabinet meeting of the state Government held on 21/9/2005 discussed the Delimitation issue under Agenda 16. It was decided at the meeting to appeal the Government of India and the Delimitation Commission to maintain Status Quo of the Assembly Constituencies. An all Political Party meeting held on 22/10/2005 Chaired by Shri O.Ibobi Singh, the then Chief Minister, decided that as the 2001 Census was factually incorrect and defective, the Chairman of the Delimitation Commission should be requested to maintain Status Quo of the existing Assembly Constituencies or to carry out the delimitation exercise district wise by adjusting within the district. So, a Memorandum signed by 9 (Nine) leaders of different political parties was submitted to the Chairman, Delimitation Commissionon 18/11/2005. After that the Delimitation Commissions end a letter bearing No 282/MR/2007 dated 5th August 2007 with the subject “Delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies on the basis of 2001 Census figure” and further the letter addressed to the following persons were appointed as Associate Members:

Mani Charanamei (MP), Dr. Thokchom Meinya (MP), O. Ibobi Singh (MLA), Phungjathang Tonsing (MLA), Gaikhangam (MLA), . Parijat (MLA), O. Joy Singh (MLA)

The letter proposed the following:

District – Senapati, Existing - 6, Proposed – 7, Population – 2,83,621 (Final).

Average per Assembly Constituency population = 40,517

Paomata (ST): 27,065, Purul (ST): 30912, Mao-Maram (ST): 69,131, Kangpokpi (ST): 38,324, Saitu Gamphazowl (ST): 44,130, Keithelmanbi (ST): 37,662, Saikhul East (ST): 36,397

District - Ukhrul: Population – 1,40,778, Existing – 3, Proposed – 4, Average Population per AC = 35,195

Chingai (ST): 32184, Sanakeithel (ST): 36596, Ukhrul (ST): 35562, Phungzar (ST): 36,436

District – Chandel: Population – 1,18,327, Existing – 2, Proposed – 3, Average population per AC = 39,442

Chakpikarong (ST): 43,202, Chandel (ST): 38,532, Moreh/ Tengnoupal (ST): 36,762

But before taking up any discussion of this Delimitation Commission’s letter the political party, M.P.C.C of Manipur, filed a petition to the Gauhati High Court, Imphal Bench and obtained stay order in 2005 to stop the delimitation process which was then in full Progress at that time. In the midst of such prejudice mind set of the political party, the Indo Myanmar Tribal Development Association represented by the Tribal minority moved the Supreme Court of India against the stay order of the High Court and the Supreme Court in its land mark judgment stayed the above mentioned stay order of the High Court in 2014 for further proceeding of the delimitation exercise. It may be noted here that the Additional Solicitor General, Gopal Subramanium who represented the Govt. of India strongly argued that there were no discrepancies of population figures as per census report under the 9 sub-divisions namely Mao Maram, Paomata, Purul, Saitu Gamphazowl in Senapati District, Machi, Moreh, Chakpikarong in Chandel District, Churachandpur in Churandpur District and Kasom Khullen in Ukhrul District, where the delimitation process were stalled by the Hon’ble High Court under its stay order. The Central Government of that time passed “The Representation People (Amendment) Bill No 22 of 2008 and amended the Act to defer the delimitation of these 4 States namely – Arunachal, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland for some time. But in 8.A(1)of the amendment it says that the President of India can rescind the deferment if he deems fit that the situation has improved. As the situation has improved the President of India felt that the Notification S.O286(E) dt 8/2/2008 for readjustment can proceed, Dr. G. Narayana Raju, Secretary issued a notification in the gazette of India (F. No. H-11019/3/2019-LegII) dated 28/2/2020.

Accordingly, The Delimitation Commission was constituted vide notification of Ministry of Law and Justice (Legislative Dept.) dated 6/3/2020 with the following as members of the Committee: -

  1. Justice (Retd) Raiyana Prakash Desai: Chairman
  2. Sushil Chandra, Election Commissioner: Member
  3. State Election Commissioner of the concerned state: Member

Then as Associate Members the following persons are appointed:

Dr. Lorho S. Ploze – MP, Dr. Ranjan Singh - MP

And from the state:

1. Konthoujam Govindas – MLA, 2. Samuel Jendai – MLA, 3. Yengkhom Surchandra – MLA, 4. Vungzagin Valte – MLA, 5. Dr. Sapam Ranjan – MLA

Relevant orders in this regard had been issued by the Hon’ble Speaker of Lok Sabha and Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly on May 26, 2020.

The gain of three seats by the hill from the valley is only after the census of 2001 is final. In the Delimitation Commission paper 1 as per the 2001 Provisional Census report the valley area would lose 5 seats while the hill would gain 5 seats. This is because as per the Provisional census of 2001 the population of Senapati was 3,79,214 but later after reducing 95,593 the population was pegged at 2,83,621 and therefore from the earlier gain of 3 seats it was reduced to 1. This reduction is after calculating the all India growth rate in the last 10 years as abnormal growth detected in some sub-divisions. In the other three subdivisions namely Machi, Tengnoupal, Chakpikarong the growth was due to the migration of Kuki brethrens from Tamenglong and Ukhrul after the Naga-Kuki conflict and also settlement of Tamils and Valley people at Moreh after the commencement of International Trade at Moreh.

I, therefore, feel that the work of these Constitutional bodies like the Delimitation Commission, Census Etc. should be made to continue without hindrance. This is because ever since the state got statehood Chandel has been conducting election withonly two seats. The people of Chandel regret that other districts got 5/6 seats while they got only 2 seats. It is the opinion of all the people of Chandel that the District should be getting at least 3 seats taking into account the1971, 1981 and 1991 census report.

Of the total land area of Manipur, the hill comprises 90% while the population is 31% whereas there is little service reservation, lack of allocation in the Tribal Sub Plans, reservation in implementation of 6th Schedule, hindrance in the process of peace talk with the underground outfits and reservation in the allotment of seats of the Legislative Assembly where the valley got 41 seats while the hill got only 19 seats, failure to give financial power to the Manipur Hill Areas Autonomous District Council and Hill areas village authorities shows lack of commitment to the Tribal of the hill.

Considering all these aspects, the Central government and the state government together needs a holistic approach to solve the various issues faced by the hill people so that the hill people can enjoy the fruit of development and good governance.

(The views expressed in the article are the writer’s own)

First Published:June 13, 2020, 10:42 a.m.