Decision made without conforming to norms
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The merger of five panchayats with the City Corporation during the tenure of the LDF Government in 2000 and the UDF Government's decision to delink three of them in 2004 do not have a legal standing since both the decisions were made without conforming to the norms.
Official sources told The Hindu here on Saturday that the norms for defining the status of a local body institution have not been finalised and passed in the State and any decision of the Government to upgrade a panchayat as town panchayat, municipality or corporation has no legal standing.
The recommendations of the Sen Committee on decentralisation of powers to redefine the status of local bodies institutions were not acted upon by the LDF Government. When the committee submitted the report comprising the recommendations, Assembly elections were announced and the Government could not take any follow-up action on the report, the sources said.
Though there were complaints that the merger of Attipra, Kadakampally, Ulloor, Nemom and Thiruvallam panchayats with the corporation was an arbitrary decision, neither the UDF nor any political party challenged the decision and the LDF was returned to the corporation with a comfortable majority.
There were complaints that the indicators generally considered for upgrading a panchayat to a corporation such as density of population and income from the non-agriculture sectors were not taken into consideration. But the LDF leaders had clarified that the panchayats were merged according to the norms and there was nothing unconstitutional about the decision.
The UDF Government later decided to delink Attipra, Kadakampally and Thiruvallam panchayats and when former Deputy Mayor Vazhuthacaud Narendran moved the High Court, the decision was quashed. Official sources said the Government had filed the writ petition on November 17 last year to restore the powers to delink the panchayat. The case has been posted for hearing on April 6.
Even if the court orders to restore the powers to delink the panchayats, the Government does not have the powers to alter the existing boundaries of the corporation. The Panchayati Raj rules have specifically stated that the structure of an elected local body cannot be altered till the end of its five-year tenure and hence the present council can complete its term without any impediments, the sources said.