Delimitation of Wards of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi
As per provisions of section 3 and 5 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957 (as amended till date), the powers of the Central Government for delimitation of wards in MCD were delegated to the Lt. Governor of Delhi. Accordingly, the first delimitation of wards subsequent to the creation of the State Election Commission for Delhi, took place in 1993 on the basis of provisional census figures for 1991 (as final figures of population were not available at that time). No. of seats for scheduled castes was fixed as 25 out of 134, 9 seats of out of 25 were allotted to scheduled castes women and 37 seats were allotted to women of general category. The L.G. Delhi, first notified draft delimitation order and later final order after dealing with objections and suggestions received during the specified period, was issued on 30.12.1993. The powers of the Central Government under section 3 & 5 of the DMC Act, 1957, for reservation of wards for specified categories, were delegated to the State Election Commissioner of Delhi. The order for reservation of seats in MCD for the specified categories and specified numbers was issued by the SEC on 23.3.1994 This order was prepared and issued for the initial and 5 successive terms i.e. for 30 years to ensure rotation of reservation of seats for each category at the successive stages of general elections. But this order was challenged in the High Court of Delhi in 1994 and the Hon’ble High Court pronounced its judgment agreeing reservations for only first term i.e. for election to be held immediately after announcement of the judgment. As such, the first general to MCD under the auspices of this Commission took place on 24th February, 1997.
The reservation of seats order was to be rotated for the next general election due in 2002 but the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs who enjoyed the powers for reservation of seats (although these were delegated to L.G. Delhi), freezed to effect rotation of seats for 2002 election and election to M.C.D. were held on the basis of reservation of seats done on 23.3.94.
In pursuance to enactment of ‘Delimitation Act, 2002’ and its subsequent amendment in 2003, a Delimitation Commission was constituted by the Government of India with the following members :-
- Justice Shri Kuldip Singh, a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India as its Chairman, one of the Election Commissioners of India as a Member and State Election Commissioner of each State (for delimitation work in his State)as a Member, to conduct delimitation of Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies in all the States and U.Ts.
The work of delimitation of parliamentary and assembly constituencies was completed in respect of N.C.T. of Delhi on the basis of Census figures for 2001 and final notification after disposal of objections and suggestions, was issued on 20.9.2006.
It will be significant to note that in NCT of Delhi, there are 7 Parliamentary constituencies and 70 Assembly Constituencies (one parliamentary constituency comprises of 10 assembly constituencies). Only two Assembly constituencies fall in the areas of New Delhi Municipal Council and the Delhi Cantt. Board and all the 68 remaining Assembly constituencies fall within the jurisdiction of the M.C.D. As 68 Assembly constituencies can not be equally divided into 134 wards, the Government of Delhi (powers in this regard were delegated by Central Government to the Lt. Governor, Delhi), a proposal was initiated to increase the number of wards from 134 to 136 but since it required amendment in the relevant provisions of the DMC Act, 1957 and it would have entailed a longer period to effect the amendment, the proposal for increase of number of wards was dropped. The present term of M.C.D. was going to expire in March, 2007 and as such, there was not sufficient time available for delimitation and reservation of wards within the stipulated period, the delimitation of wards was started to form 134 wards, broadly dividing each Assembly constituency into two wards as far as practicable.
The Lt. Governor of Delhi, constituted a Delimitation Committee for delimitation of wards comprising of the following members:-
- State Election Commissioner as Chairman of the Committee
- An Addl. Commissioner of M.C.D. as Member
- A Joint Secretary of Delhi Government, Urban Dev. Deptt. as Member
Besides, 5 M.L.As and 5 Municipal Councillors were also appointed as “Associate Members” to assist the abovesaid Committee in its task. The functions of the Committee right from the beginning till final orders of Delimitation of Wards is issued, are enshrined in the Delhi Government Notification No.7(367)(8)/2002/UD/4593 dated 5.7.2006 (Annexure ‘A’).
Meanwhile, an amendment was made in the DMC Act, 1957 making a provision of minimum number of wards as 272 and maximum of 300. The Committee prepared Draft Order for Delimitation of Wards for 272 wards i.e. to say that each Assembly constituency which was bifurcated into two wards, shall have four wards in each constituency and notified it on 17th January, 2007 for inviting suggestions and objections from the Public and Political Parties etc.
The final order was issued on 7th February, 2007. Under the delegated powers of the Central Government the Lt. Governor of Delhi is competent to delimit the wards and to fix number of seats reserved for scheduled castes and for general women whereas powers to reserve seats for specified categories are vested with the State Election Commissioner. The SEC issued the order for reservation of wards on 17th February, 2007 which was challenged in the High Court of Delhi. Even if there was very short time to deal with the writ petition yet the Hon’ble High Court agreed with the revised proposal of this Commission for reservation of wards and final order was notified on 6th March, 2007 (Annexure ‘B’). It may also be mentioned that the notification of election calling the wards to elect councillors was also issued on 10th March, 2007 and election held timely i.e. before expiry of the present term of the Corporation. The Election Commission acted remarkably timely and swiftly in these very odd situations; did not leave any effort to hold the general election timely; and it has succeeded in its mission. The election took place on 5.4.2007 and results declared on 7.4.2007.
It may be added that assistance by Computers at this occasions had been significantly sharper, less time-consuming, in preparation of a large number of maps of wards during draft and also in final shape, storage of all multiple datas in memory and to hear and dispose of all suggestions and objections within least time. A reputed computer agency with skilled technicians was engaged for the purpose which stood at the time of need and acted sharply to give final shape to the draft and final proposals. Had the job was done in conventional method with manual labour the work of delimitation of wards could not have been accomplished before the declaration of election which under no circumstances, could have been postponed even for a single day.