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Maha local bodies polls: SC asks SEC to notify election within two weeks

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New Delhi | Thursday, 2022 5:15:09 AM IST
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Maharashtra State Election Commission to notify the local bodies election programme in two weeks.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said: "Accordingly, the election programme of such local bodies must proceed and the State Election Commission is obliged to notify the election programme within two weeks from today 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) w.e.f. March 11, 2022".

The bench, also comprising Justices Abhay S. Oka and C.T. Ravikumar, added that the delimitation as it existed prior to March 11 in respect of local bodies concerned be taken as notional delimitation for the conduct of overdue elections and to conduct the same on that basis in respect of each of such local bodies.

The top court was hearing a challenge to amendments passed by Maharashtra, taking over the process of delimitation and creation of new electoral wards.

In March, the Maharashtra government passed amendments to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations Act and Maharashtra Municipal Councils, Nagar Panchayats, Industrial Townships Act, 2022, allowing the state government to take over the power of delimitation, which was earlier with the SEC.

The bench, in its order, said: "We observe and hold that the process of delimitation, being a continuous exercise, may be continued by the state of Maharashtra, subject to the outcome of these petitions, but that would be relevant only for future elections after such exercise is completed."

On the aspect for reservation for other backward classes (OBCs), the bench added that compliance of triple test as predicated by it in Vikas Kishanrao Gawali Vs State of Maharashtra (2021) must be adhered to. "Absent such compliance, no reservation can be provided in the local bodies for that category which may go for elections with immediate effect in terms of this order," it added.

The top court clarified that until the delimitation is done by the state government in terms of Amendment Act(s) of 2022, the SEC shall give effect to this order also in respect of upcoming elections in respect of local bodies which would become due by efflux of time.

It scheduled the matter for further hearing on July 12 and sought a compliance report from the SEC.

The top court sought explanation from the SEC, why the elections in a large number of local bodies (2,486) across Maharashtra, though overdue, and in some cases, even overdue for two years, have not been taken forward despite the peremptory direction given by the court vide successive orders.

The SEC contended that it had taken steps in right earnest until the amendment act(s) came into force; and further until the delimitation was done by the state government under the stated amendment act(s), it was not possible for it to proceed in the matter.

--IANS ss/vd

( 511 Words)

2022-05-04-23:10:03 (IANS)

 
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