Amendment to the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Representation of the People Act, 1950 approved

Feb 18, 2016 10:10 IST

The Union Cabinet on 17 February 2016 gave its approval to amend Section 11 of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Section 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950.

This approval will enable the Election Commission to carry out limited delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies in the Cooch Behar District of West Bengal. This became necessary consequent upon the exchange of 51 Bangladeshi enclaves and 111 Indian enclaves respectively between India and Bangladesh with effect from 31 July 2015.

This is in pursuance of the Constitution (One Hundredth Amendment) Act, 2015 and also allows for introduction of a Bill, namely, the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Parliament.

Background
In a historic pact between India and Bangladesh, 51 Bangladeshi enclaves (Chhitmahals) in Indian Territory and 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh territory were exchanged with effect from 31 July 2015.

The move altered the geography and demography of the district of Cooch Behar in West Bengal.

With a view to carry out consequential geographic and demographic alterations vis-à-vis the electoral mosaic of the affected areas, the Election Commission requested to amend Section 11 of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Section 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950. This will enable them to carry out limited delimitation of constituencies in the affected areas before the ensuing State Assembly elections in West Bengal.

What is Delimitation?
Delimitation means the act or process of fixing limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or a province having a legislative body. The job of delimitation is assigned to a high power body. Such a body is known as Delimitation Commission or a Boundary Commission.

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 and in 2002 under Delimitation Act, 2002.

The Delimitation Commission in India is a high power body whose orders have the force of law and cannot be called in question before any court.

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