PIL petition seeks disqualification of 285 ZP members

The State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday informed the Karnataka High Court that only one among the 285 members of the nine Zilla Panchayats (ZPs) in the Bangalore Division may retain his membership and the rest will have to be disqualified if the law on declaration of assets by the ZP members is implemented.

Submission

A submission was made by SEC counsel K.N. Phanindra before a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice S.N. Satyanarayana during the hearing on a public interest litigation petition seeking action against the ZP members in Bangalore division for not declaring their assets and liabilities as per the law.

“In Bangalore Division, only one member will survive and all others will go [will have to be disqualified] if the law is strictly applied,” Mr. Phanindra submitted while pointing out that the situation was same in other districts too.

Following these submissions, the Bench asked why no action had been taken by the SEC till today.

Reply

To this, SEC counsel replied that the report on non-submission of asset details by the ZP member was given by the Regional Commissioner recently. “If the majority want to defy [the law], will you allow them?” the Bench asked. “The only way to ridicule a law is to not enforce it,” the Bench observed while asking the SEC, Regional Commissioner and the State to file their responses by November 29.

The petitioner, V. Shashidhar, a social activist, had pointed out that of the 285 members in Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Ramanagaram, Kolar, Chickballapur, Chitradurga, Davangere and Shimoga ZPs, only “30 have declared their assets and liabilities” as per the provisions of the Karnataka Panchayat Raj (Taluk Panchayat and Zilla Panchayat Declaration of Assets by the Elected Members) Rules, 2010 framed under the KPR Act.

However, the SEC’s submission before the Bench indicates that 29 among these 30 members, who claimed to have submitted details of their assets and liabilities, have not submitted the particulars within the time frame for submission.

The Rule mandates that every member of ZP should declare assets held by him/her and their family members within three months of assuming office and also within a month of every calendar year during their five year term of office.

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