SC directs authorities to conduct LB polls in Maha immediately

Counsel appearing for the Election Commission pointed out that as of today, election programme in respect of 367 local bodies has already commenced and the same will be continued and taken to its logical end, in due course.
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of IndiaFile

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the state election commission and all concerned state authorities of Maharashtra to ensure the election process with respect to remaining local bodies is immediately commenced and taken forward based on the direction in order of May 4.

"As regards the remaining local bodies, referred to in the chart filed with the status report, we direct the Election Commission and all the State authorities to ensure that the election process in respect of each of these local bodies is immediately commenced in accord with the recommendation made by the Dedicated Commission, and is taken forward on the basis of the directions given by this Court on May 5, 2022," an apex court bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar said.

The order came after Maharashtra government submitted the Dedicated Commission for Reservation for Backward Class of Citizens in Local Bodies of Maharashtra has submitted its report on July 7, 2022, after complying with the necessary enquiries for arriving at the proportion for providing reservations for Other Backward Class (OBC) category local body-wise and the state election commission be permitted to proceed with the election process of the remaining local bodies on that basis.

Counsel appearing for the Election Commission pointed out that as of today, election programme in respect of 367 local bodies has already commenced and the same will be continued and taken to its logical end, in due course.

"We restate that position and express sanguine hope that the concerned authorities and, in particular, the Election Commission would complete the election process in respect of the remaining local bodies in accordance with law in right earnest keeping in mind the spirit of the mandate of the Constitution of India in that regard," the court said.

During the hearing, the court remarked, "We want elections to be conducted. It cannot be deferred like this indefinitely."

The bench also said that it will reiterate whatever it has said in the order of May 4.

"Sometimes excuses for delimitation are given, sometimes monsoons. We want an election. We are making it loud and clear," the court said.

The court also noted that the report was filed by the dedicated commission. On May 4 the Supreme Court directed Maharashtra State Election Commission to notify the election programme of local bodies within two weeks in respect of such local bodies "including to continue with the process from the stage as on March 10, 2022, on the basis of the delimitation done prior to coming into force of the Amendment Act(s) with effect from March 11, 2022."

The court's direction came while hearing the petitions which have questioned the constitutional validity of Sections 2,3,4(1)(a) and 5 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act, and Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats, Industrial Townships Act (Amendment) Act, 2022, Sections 2,3,4 5 and 6 of the Maharashtra Village Panchayat and the Maharashtra Zilla Parishad and Panchayat Samiti (Amendment Act), 2022; and Section 2 of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Act, 2022.

The thrust of the challenge is that under the constitutional scheme, the authority regarding delimitation ought to be with the State Election Commission, which has been taken away owing to the coming into force of the Amendment Act(s) with effect from March 11, 2022.

The court had earlier also clarified that until the delimitation is done by the State Government in terms of Amendment Act(s) of 2022, the State Election Commission shall give effect to this order is also in respect of upcoming elections in respect of local bodies which would become due by efflux of time.

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