ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Constitutional Fraud?

Constitution 91st Amendment Bill: A Constitutional Fraud?

The Constitution 91st Amendment Bill seeks to cancel the redistribution of parliamentary constituencies due after the 2001, 2011 and 2021 censuses. In doing so it undermines what should be an essential and prized characteristic of the Lok Sabha, that each voter has an equal voice in the national parliament. When considering the bill, parliament should therefore consider whether a short-term expedient to prevent delimitation should be allowed to undermine the democratic core of the Constitution.

The framework of India’s democracy was established in the Constitutional Convention, but one aspect of that framework, which lays down the means of maintaining a basic structure of one-person, one-vote, one-value, has been systematically undermined. This relates to delimitation, the process by which constituency boundaries are drawn up, and states are allocated seats in the national parliament. The subject is a somewhat esoteric one, but that does not mean it should be ignored. Delimitation affects the relative influence of each voter in India, and as such is at the heart of the democratic process.

Delimitation is a particularly sensitive political issue because the people it directly affects are sitting politicians. Changing constituency boundaries can have an immediate impact on an MP or MLA’s chances of re-election, and so the process of delimitation is always carefully monitored. Of course, politicians are not just affected by the process, but are in a position to actively intervene, and not just through influencing the operation of delimitation (or gerrymandering), but by changing the principles and methods laid down by law to regulate the process.

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