Apex court bats for timely municipal polls, but in BBMP case Karnataka govt has obtained SC stay on poll order of HC
The Supreme Court’s direction to conduct elections for all municipal corporations in the country may have raised the hopes of aspiring BBMP corporators, but experts have cautioned them not to ‘read too much’ into the order.
In its order on Tuesday, May 10, while hearing a petition against the Madhya Pradesh government, an SC bench consisting of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice CT Ravikumar said, “All concerned are obliged to ensure that the newly elected body is installed in every local body before the expiry of the five-year term of the outgoing elected body. Even in case of dissolution before the expiry of the five-year period, where an administrator is required to be appointed by the state, that regime cannot be continued beyond six months by virtue of relevant provisions in the respective state legislation(s).”
The bench added, “This constitutional mandate is inviolable. Neither the State Election Commission nor the state government or for that matter the state legislature, including this court in exercise of powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, can countenance a dispensation to the contrary.”
‘Time of the essence’
The bench further noted, “We once again make it clear that if delimitation is not done by the state government in terms of Amendment Act(s) of 2022 or the triple test requirement is completed “in all respects” for providing reservation to OBC category, the State Election Commission shall give effect to this order also in respect of upcoming elections of local bodies which would/had become due by efflux of time.”
Significantly, para 31 of the order reads, “We also make it clear that this order and directions given are not limited to the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission/state of Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra State Election Commission/state of Maharashtra in terms of a similar order passed on 04.05.2022, but to all the states/Union Territories and the respective Election Commissions to abide by the same without fail to uphold the constitutional mandate.”
BBMP case hangs fire
Sources told TheBengaluruLive that the Supreme Court order does not apply to BBMP directly as the state government has challenged the Karnataka High Court’s order directing early elections to BBMP.
The state government has challenged the HC order and obtained a stay from the Supreme Court, stating that the government has introduced the BBMP Act 2020 and the number of wards has been increased to 243 from the existing 198.
“The Supreme Court order is not directly referring to BBMP. But they (SC) can always independently say that BBMP elections be held,” said a top Supreme Court lawyer.
Karnataka SEC for early hearing
On Tuesday, advocate Sahil Tagotra, representing the Karnataka State Election Commission, urged the Supreme Court to direct the SC registrar to allow the present mentioning and list SLP Nos. 15181-83/2020 for hearing before the court on or before May 20, 2022.
On Monday, senior advocate SN Bhat, representing Ravi Jagan, also demanded early listing of the BBMP poll case.