Delimitation Bills passed by LS

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New Delhi, Mar 11 (UNI) The Lok Sabha today passed the delimitation bills - Delimitation (Amendment) Bill, 2008, seeking to replace the ordinance in this regard and Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeking to amend the R P Act - by voice vote.

Replying on the bills, Law and Justice Minister H R Bhardwaj said the Government had no interest in these amendment acts but it had to carry them out due to political consensus.

He said the Ordinance was issued as there was direction from the courts to implement the process of delimitation. He said it was very important for the Government to do something very urgently to prevent the deterioration in the law and order situation in the sensitive North Eastern States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. There was also the need to protect the interest of the tribal population of Jharkhand. So the government issued the ordinance with some safeguards for these States.

He said truly speaking, ''I was opposing the Delimitation Commission from the very beginning of 2005 but the political parties wanted that it should be implemented.'' He said the Delimitation Commission was a statutory body set up by an act of Parliament and ''it would not be proper for me to comment either on its working or on its Chairman Justice Kuldeep Singh''.

He said, ''I am fully aware of the difficulties being faced by the tribal population of Chhattisgarh.'' He said the Government was very much aware of its constitutional responsibilities and so if the quotas of the SC as well as that of the ST were reduced, then it would be compensated at the cost of the general seats, he added.

He said there were two options before the Government - either to reject the Delimitation Commission's report or to accept it and even after accepting, it could keep it pending but there was pressure from the opposition parties for its implementation.

He said that in 2002, while setting up the Delimitation Commission, no proper thought was given to the question of the role of the MPs' role in the Commission and their suggestions and it was a great mistake.

He said, ''But even now we will try to find out some ways of how to fulfill the aspirations of the tribal people in the country.'' The law Minister said even now several court cases were pending on this in different courts of the country.

Later, the CPI leader Prabodh Panda sought permission to withdraw this statutory resolution which was earlier introduced by him as the House granted him the permission. Mr Panda withdrew the resolution and thereafter the bill was passed.

Earlier participating in the discussion, Dr Arun Sharma (AGP) thanked the Government for keeping Assam as well as three other North-Eastern States out of the purview of the Delimitation Commission. However, Dr Sharma asked the Government how long this would continue, whether it would be applicable along with that of Jharkhand at the time after 2026.

He said that in Assam, the Delimitation process should not be started till the national Registration of Citizenship was completed.

Sarbanand Sonowal (AGP) associated himself with Dr Sharma's views.

Nand Kumar Sai (BJP) strongly criticised the report prepared by the Delimitation Commission as it had totally ignored the tribal population. He said there were gross mistakes in the population figures of the tribals in the State, he added.

Ramdas Atawhale (RPI-A), while supporting the bill, urged the Government to increase the number of Lok Sabha seats by another 200.

Dharmendra Pradhan (BJP) wanted to know from the Government why Chhattisgarh, a predominantly tribal State was not excluded from the Delimitation's purview when Jharkhand was kept out for the same.

Ram Lakhan Singh (BJP) said the Delimitation Commission had not followed the guidelines and norms set by it. He said there were reports of large-scale corruption at the lower levels which has resulted in this large-scale discrepencies.

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