Constitution doesn’t allow aldermen right to vote, says SC

Apex court issues notice to L-G and MCD pro tem presiding officer, lists AAP’s petition for detailed hearing on February 13 

February 09, 2023 01:38 am | Updated 01:38 am IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Constitution does not allow nominated members of a municipality the right to vote in meetings, while issuing notice to the Lieutenant Governor and the pro tem presiding officer of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) in a petition filed by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleging deliberate stalling of mayoral elections for the third time in a row.

“The difference is very substantial between you (elected members) and them (nominated members),” Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud remarked in a preliminary hearing.

The three-judge Bench listed the case for detailed hearing on February 13.

AAP mayoral candidate Shelly Oberoi had moved the Supreme Court on January 27 pleading for swift and timely conduct of the mayoral polls after the House was stalled twice – January 6 and 24. She later withdrew the petition while seeking permission to move the court again in case the aldermen were allowed to vote.

Soon after the House was adjourned on February 6, senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia had said that the party would seek the Supreme Court’s intervention for impartial conduct of the mayoral elections.

‘Presiding officer illegal’

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, appearing for Ms. Oberoi on Wednesday, urged that the case concerned “destruction of democracy”. He said Article 243U of the Constitution mandates that elections to constitute a municipality should be completed well in time.

Mr. Singhvi pointed out that the MCD elections were held on December 4, 2022, but subsequent polls for the offices of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and members of the Standing Committees have been stalled thrice.

He said the pro tem presiding officer has allowed nominated members to vote in direct violation of Article 243R(2)(iv) of the Constitution.

“It is not just a statute, the Constitution itself does not allow them to vote,” Justice P.S. Narasimha remarked at the point.

Mr. Singhvi argued that the pro tem presiding officer [BJP’s Satya Sharma] is herself “illegal” as she is not the senior-most member.

“Then she orders all three elections of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Members of the Standing Committees to be held together. There is directly a provision that this cannot be done,” he submitted.

“Since in terms of Section 76 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act of 1957, the Mayor, or in his absence the Deputy Mayor, has to preside over every meeting of the corporation, the simultaneous holding elections of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and members of the Standing Committees is directly contrary to the provisions of the statute,” the court recorded Mr. Singhvi’s contention in its order.

On Tuesday, AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the party had shared with the apex court evidence of the BJP-led Centre trying “to form its own government within the MCD through unfair means”.

The results of the MCD polls were announced on December 7. AAP secured the majority with 134 wards in the 250-ward House, followed by the BJP with 104 wards.

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