The attempts of the Bharatiya Janata Party government to postpone the elections for 209 urban local bodies, including seven city corporations, suffered a setback with the Supreme Court on Friday directing the government to furnish the list of ward-wise reservation to the State Election Commission (SEC) on or before February 4 without waiting for final population figures of Census 2011.
What caused more embarrassment to the government is that the apex court has also permitted the SEC to issue calendar of events for holding elections based on the notification through which wards were reserved for conducting elections in 2007 in case the government fails to furnish fresh reservation list by February 4.
Calendar of events
This order paves the way for the SEC to announce calendar of events on any day after February 4 and complete elections to 44 city municipal councils, 93 town municipalities, 65 town panchayats and seven city corporations, except Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, before commencement of II PU exams on March 13.
A Bench of Justices H.L. Gokhale and Madan B Lokur issued the direction while rejecting the government’s appeal against the order of the Karnataka High Court, which had directed the State to publish reservation list by December 21, 2012.
The apex court also dismissed an appeal, filed by one Raju Chavan, who challenged the High Court’s order of dismissing his PIL petition in which he had sought holding elections by reserving wards based on 2011 Census population figures instead using figures of 2001 Census. The Government had supported his plea.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court was informed that final figures of Census 2011 would be out only during April-end.
SEC’s legal battle
The SEC in November 2012 moved the High Court complaining that the government was delaying issuance of reservation list and the High Court on November 8 ordered that it expected the government to issue reservation list within two weeks to enable holding of elections to these local bodies before the term of existing elected councils expires as per Constitutional requirement and a verdict of the apex court.
Later, the government on November 29 gave an undertaking to the High Court that it would publish the draft reservation list on or before December 4 and the final list on or before December 17.
However, without publishing the list as assured to the court, the government sought two more weeks stating that it had to process 2,500 objections received for the draft reservation notification. This plea was made after the SEC filed a contempt of court petition.
Also, the government suddenly contended before the court that it would be better to fix the reservation based on Census 2011 figures, expected to be published in March 2013, while toeing a similar plea made in Mr. Chavan’s petition.
The High Court on December 20 declined to grant two weeks and set December 21 as the deadline to publish the reservation list, against this order the government had moved the Supreme Court.