The Supreme Court sought response from the Centre on a plea challenging an order to resume the delimitation exercise in Nagaland based on a 2001 census. (Chakhesang Public Organisation and Ors. v. UOI and Ors.)
The bench comprising of Chief Justice SA Bobde along with Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice on the plea and tagged it with similar petitions challenging delimitation process with respect to the State of Assam.
The petition said that the 2008 order was passed considering the law and order, disturbance to tribal equilibrium. “The new order is arbitrary since the reasons continue to exist and there is no change in circumstances,” the petition, filed by Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO), an organisation of the Chakhesang (Naga) tribe, said.
The petition sought quashing of the order passed by the centre on February 28, terming it “arbitrary and violative of Article 14 (equality) of the Constitution.”
The petitioner further adds “the impugned order is ultra-vires the provisions of Article 82, 170, 371A of the Constitution of India. The impugned order rescinds the earlier order dated 8.2.2008 by which the delimitation exercise in the State of Nagaland was deferred.”
This “deferment order” passed in 2008 had cited the State’s internal disturbance as the reason to defer the process. It is claimed in the petition before the Supreme Court that these reasons remain unchanged even as on date. This is evident from the Centre’s move to invoke the provisions of Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the State for a period of six months and declaring it a “disturbed” area.
The impugned order seeking resumption of delimitation exercise based on 2001 census would certainly disturb the tribal equilibrium/demarcations and lead to abrogating their constitutional rights.
The exercise will have an adverse impact on the unique demographic situation in Nagaland, the plea states. It adds that the tribal equilibrium of the region may be disturbed leading to the “abrogation of their constitutional rights.” The unique demography of the State is the reason the State enjoys a special Constitutional guarantee under Article 371A of the Constitution. Therefore, it is contended that the order seeking the resumption of the delimitation activity is in violation of this Article as well. The plea states,
“The impugned order seeking resumption of delimitation exercise based on 2001 census would certainly disturb the tribal equilibrium/ demarcations and lead to abrogating their constitutional rights. Thus, the impugned order is also ultra-vires Article 371A of the Constitution of India.”
It further said that that the grievance with the 2001 census figures for the State of Nagaland is marred by several fallacies and abnormalities which have not been corrected even after 14 years of protracted litigation.
The order for delimitation has now been challenged.