Approach HC, SC tells petitioners in Bengaluru civic polls case

They have challenged delimitation of wards for elections to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike

August 26, 2022 10:38 pm | Updated 10:38 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court had paved the way for the BBMP elections two years after the civic body’s term came to an end.

The Supreme Court had paved the way for the BBMP elections two years after the civic body’s term came to an end.

The Supreme Court on Friday asked petitioners challenging the delimitation of wards for elections to Bengaluru’s civic body, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), to approach the Karnataka High Court.

A Bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and J.K. Maheshwari said it would be appropriate for the High Court to consider their pleas about the delimitation exercise.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, for a petitioner, said the current delimitation would favour the ruling party in the State. Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for a respondent, said the delimitation work should not stall the elections and a schedule ought to be announced.

The Supreme Court had paved the way for the BBMP elections two years after its previous term came to an end. The elections are crucial and is seen by many as a precursor to the Karnataka Assembly polls due in 2023.

MLAs call the shots

Critics argue that the elections have been postponed deliberately by the ruling BJP to fortify the positions of its MLAs, who have been calling the shots in Bengaluru in the absence of a civic body. Bengaluru contributes 12.5% of the seats in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly and over 60% of the state's revenue annually.

The Karnataka government had in May informed the apex court that the delimitation exercise was in its "final stage" and a "dedicated commission" was in the process of determining the reservation to be provided for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in the elections.

The court had recorded the undertaking and further directed the Karnataka State Election Commission (SEC) "to commence its preparatory exercise for conducting the elections to install the newly elected body". It had ordered the preparatory exercise to begin within one week of the notification of delimitation of wards or determination of OBC reservation, whichever of the two came later.

"Needless to observe, once the State Election Commission initiates the process for conduct of elections, it must take the same to its logical end in accordance with law as expeditiously as possible," the court had observed in the order.

M.P. civic polls

In a separate case concerning delay in elections to over 23,000 local bodies in Madhya Pradesh, the apex court had said such lapse "borders on the breakdown of the rule of law".

The court had declared that State Election Commissions across the country cannot skip their constitutional obligation to conduct polls to local bodies every five years.

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