The bench comprising Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Abdul Quddhose, which heard a petition by R Siva, Opposition Leader for the Puducherry legislative Assembly and DMK organising secretary for the UT, said issuing election notification without the reserving seats for BCs and STs was a violation of constitutional mandate.
“All the election proceedings for Puducherry local body elections shall be kept in abeyance till October 21,” the judges directed, and asked Puducherry State Election Commission to file counter on that date. The bench then referred the matter to the first bench.
Appearing for Siva, senior advocate P Wilson said the Puducherry SEC withdrew reservation for the BC and ST communities, which was against social justice, Constitution, Puducherry Municipalities Act, 1973, and Puducherry Village and Commune Panchayats Act, 1973.
When the election notification dated September 22 was challenged seeking a direction to fix the anomalies in reserving seats for SCs, BCs and women, the SEC said it would release a fresh notification and the matter was disposed of. However, the UT government issued the notification rescinding the earlier notifications providing reservation for BC and ST, which was an infraction of statutory provisions, Wilson argued.
The SEC should conduct the election with proper reservations allotted for BCs and STs according to Constitutional mandate under Section 243D (1) and 243T (1), he added.
Arguing against the notification, advocate ARL Sundaresan, who appeared for Puducherry MLA J Pragesh Kumar, said Commission did not pay heed to the unanimous representation given by the Council of Ministers and elected representatives.
Senior advocate V Chandrasekaran, who appeared for the Commission, contended that the reservation for BCs and STs was withdrawn as there was no empirical data available on the population of these communities. However, the bench rejected the contention.
When MLAs J Pragesh Kumar and N Perianan had challenged the local body election notification, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesvalu warned the SEC of stalling the election due to the anomalies in reservation for BCs, SCs and women. After the Commission said it would withdraw the notification and issue a fresh one, the bench directed it to issue a new notification within five days.
The DMK again challenged the new notification pointing out that there were no reservations provided for BCs and STs.