Kochi

Legal tussle likely over swearing in of BJP councillor

The election of T. Pathmakumari, the civic representative from the Island North Division of the Kochi Corporation, has run into further controversy with Congress terming her “late swearing-in ceremony” as illegal and sought to notify that the seat has fallen vacant.

A section of the Congress leaders also alleged that Ms. Pathmakumari, a Bharatiya Janata Party councillor, had illegally attended a few meetings of the Kochi Corporation council and received honorarium as a councillor even before her swearing-in as a civic representative.

A  civil court had declared her as the winner of the election from the division by drawing a lot on July 22, on a petition filed by N. Venugopal, her nearest rival, in the civic body elections held in December 2021.

In her complaint to the Additional Chief Secretary and the Secretary of the Local Self-Government department, V.K. Minimol, a Congress leader and a member of the Kochi Corporation council, pointed out that Ms. Pathmakumari had not sworn in one month after the court declaring her as the winner. The continuation of Ms. Pathmakumari as an elected councillor was terminated and she was declared the winner by the civil court on June 22, pointed out Ms. Minimol.

The office of the councillor should be declared as vacated as the elected representative was not sworn in within one month after her election to the council, as specified in the Kerala Municipality Act, she argued.

Incidentally, Ms. Pathmakumari was sworn in as the councillor on August 11, nearly 42 days after the court declaring her as the winner.

Mr. Venugopal alleged that Ms. Pathmakumari had attended three meetings of the Kochi Corporation council and one meeting on People’s Plan programme. She was also paid the honorarium for the council meetings even before she officially assumed the office. The CCTV visuals of the meetings would confirm her participation in the proceedings. No person other than the elected councillor can attend the council meetings, he argued.

However, Ms. Pathmakumari said she had communicated the court decision declaring her the winner to the District Collector and the Kochi Corporation authorities the next day of the court delivering the order and requested them to make the arrangements for her to assume the office. “It was on the invitation from the Kochi Corporation that I attended the council meetings. However, I didn’t sign the attendance register,” she maintained.

Mr. Venugopal said he would move the court to declare the seat vacant if the Local Self-Government department fails to act on the complaint.


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Printable version | Aug 28, 2022 7:54:45 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/legal-tussle-likely-over-swearing-in-of-bjp-councillor/article65768973.ece