J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will hear on August 27 a special leave petition filed by the Karnataka State Election Commission against an order of the Karnataka High Court directing it to postpone the elections for the 209 urban local bodies in the State to September.

A Bench of Justice H.K. Sema and Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta fixed the date of hearing after senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the commission mentioned about the filing of the SLP.

He said the Commission came out with the poll schedule on two occasions. The schedule was challenged in the Karnataka High Court by way of public interest litigations (PILs), he said. The Bench said that since the elections had been postponed, it could not interfere on merits but would consider the legal issues involved in the SLP.

The counsel alleged that on both the occasions, Karnataka, in collusion with the petitioners, supported their contention that it was not the right time to hold the local body elections on the ground that the notification for reservation of seats was wrong. He alleged that the State Government was not interested in the conduct of the local bodies polls and was trying to delay the elections on one pretext or the other. He said that unfortunately the High Court had interfered with the election process by its order dated August 7.

Opportunity denied

The SLP submitted that the High Court order was passed without giving any opportunity to the State Election Commission to file its objections, including the dilatory tactics adopted by the State Government.

It said the State Government had not been cooperating for holding the elections to local bodies like municipalities, municipal corporations and town municipalities although a request had been made in October 2005. The first poll schedule was issued by the commission on April 10 and the second schedule on August 2 and 3. Subsequently, the High Court had entertained the PIL and asked the Commission to issue fresh calendar of events in the last week of September.

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