Apex court to examine Dalit plea on delimitation

March 10th, 2008 - 10:44 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday decided to examine whether the number of seats reserved for the Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes in parliament and state assembles following the latest delimitation exercise is in right proportion to the current Dalit population. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan decided to examine the issue by entertaining a petition that alleged the total number of seats reserved for Dalits after the latest recast of parliamentary and assembly seats’ boundaries has gone down in several state legislatures despite a rise in Dalit population as per the latest 2001 census.

The bench, which also included Justices Altmas Kabir and J.M. Panchal, asked petitioner Virendra Kumar, a former schoolteacher from Himachal Pradesh, to file additional documents to substantiate the allegation.

It sought from the petitioner documents showing state-wise break-up of seats reserved for the Schedule Castes and Tribes before and after the latest delimitation exercise.

The bench, which restrained itself from issuing notices to the Election Commission and the central government for the time being, also asked the petitioner to bring before it the copies of the 2001 census with the state-wise break-up showing the rise of the Dalit population.

Kumar, in his petition, pointed out the constitutional provision under Article 330 and 332, which provides for reservation to Schedule Castes and Tribes in parliament and state assemblies in proportion to their population.

Citing examples of seats reserved for Dalits in various state assemblies as per the latest delimitation exercise conducted by the Delimitation Commission, headed by Justice Kuldeep Singh, Kumar alleged that the numbers of seats reserved for Dalits in those assemblies had gone down significantly.

Kumar contended that the Delimitation Commission has reserved only 39 seats for the Scheduled Castes and only 15 for the Scheduled Tribes in the 294-member Andhra Pradesh assembly, despite the fact as per the 2001 census, the two should have been given 48 and 19 seats respectively in the assembly.

Similarly, the Delimitation Commission has allocated only 13 seats to the Schedule Castes and only one seat to the Schedule Tribes in the Kerala assembly, despite their latest population warranting reservation of 14 seats and two seats respectively, he contended.

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