Apex court stays Karnataka court order on civic bodies poll
Published on Monday, August 27th, 2007 at 8:14 am
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday stayed a Karnataka High Court order interfering with the impending election to the state urban municipal bodies.
While staying the order, a bench of Justices B.N. Agarwal and P.K. Balasubramanyam asked the state government to extend all possible help to the State Election Commission in conducting the poll process of 208 urban municipal bodies.
The court directive followed a petition by the Karnataka poll panel last week accusing the State Government of indefinitely delaying the municipal polls since 2006 through various stratagems, including filing of a public interest lawsuit before the state high court.
In its petition, the panel had also objected to the high court’s act of repeatedly suspending the election schedules announced.
Arguing for the state poll panel, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi told the bench that the elections to the municipal bodies had been due since June 2006 and the government needed to provide it the list of reserved seats in various local bodies to facilitate the conduct of elections.
But the state government had been refusing to meet this statutory requirement despite repeated pleas by the panel since October 2005.
He added that with the state government repeatedly turning a deaf ear to the panel’s requests, it had to approach the Karnataka High court for a direction to the state to notify the reserved seats in all the 209 local urban bodies.
The government eventually issued the notification in mid-March this year after which the poll panel on April 10 announced the poll schedule for the local bodies poll.
But within a week after the state government notified the reserved seats, some individuals moved the high court, challenging the notification, the petition said.
The government, however, instead of opposing the petition before the high court conceded the petitioners’ contention that there were lacunae in its notification and asked for time to issue a fresh notification.
The high court then quashed the poll schedule, Rohtagi rued adding that the poll panel had to go in appeal before a division bench of the high court to challenge its single judge order to quash the poll schedule.
The state government, in turn, again sought four weeks to issue a fresh notification, and thereafter the poll panel announced a fresh poll schedule on Aug 2 and 3.
Rohtagi added that on Aug 7 the poll schedule was again challenged by some petitioners on the ground that the time for holding the elections was not proper.
Accusing the high court of exceeding its jurisdiction in deciding the petition, Rohtagi said the petition against the second election schedule was filed before the high court in the morning, when a copy of the petition was served to the poll panel’s counsel.
But the high court took up the matter in the evening itself and without giving any time to the commission to file its objections again stayed the poll schedule.