The Lok Sabha has passed Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to grant voting rights to people who became citizens of the country following the exchange of enclaves between India and Bangladesh. The Opposition Parties have questioned the delay on part of the government in bringing the measure.
Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda had introduced in the Lok Sabha the Bill to amend Section 11 of the Delimitation Act, 2002 and Section 9 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950. The Bill was later passed unanimously by a voice vote. Gowda urged the House to pass the bill in the current session to enable the grant of voting rights to the people in these enclaves.
The term of the 294-member West Bengal Assembly ends on May 29 and elections are to be held before that, hence there was a sense of urgency for early passage of the bill.
Points to Note
- Once passed, the proposed Bill will enable the Election Commission to carry out a limited delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal following the exchange of 51 Bangladeshi and 111 Indian enclaves in July last year.
- The enclaves were exchanged pursuant to the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement and 2011 Protocol and Instruments of Ratification during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh on June 6-7 last year.
- Other than the 14,000 people of the 51 enclaves that became part of India, about 921 who came from Bangladesh have also become Indian citizens.