HC gives 12 weeks to govt. to complete delimitation and reservation of seats in TPs and ZPs

The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday directed the State government to complete the process of delimitation of seats in taluk and zilla panchayats and provide reservation of seats, including for the Other Backward Classes (OBCs), as per the apex court’s directions, within 12 weeks.

The court also directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to commence the process of election within one week after expiry of 12 weeks provided for the government to complete the delimitation of seats and for reservation of seats.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi passed the interim order while hearing a PIL petition, filed by SEC last year.

The SEC had questioned the legality of enacting the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Act, 2021, which came into force from September 18, 2021, when SEC was at the last leg of preparations before announcing elections to TPs and ZPs.

The State enacted the new law, which took away the powers earlier conferred on the SEC for fixing the number of seats, carrying out the exercise of delimitation, and fixing the reservation of seats for TPs and ZPs. The SEC, while making it clear that it is not concerned with the government’s decision to withdraw the power, had said that it was only concerned about the timing of withdrawal as elections cannot be held as per constitutional mandate as the new law has also nullified the exercises of delimitation of seats and fixation of reservations have were already completed by the SEC.

The Bench took up the petition on Tuesday as the SEC had sought an early hearing on the petition in the light of recent direction of the Supreme Court to all States to hold elections to local bodies without delay.

Earlier, the government filed an affidavit informing the court that it had recently set up a commission, comprising K. Bhakthavatsala, retired judge of the High Court, and C.R. Chikmath, retired IAS officer, to give a report identifying political backwardness of OBCs in urban and rural local bodies and recommendation for providing reservation for OBCs.

The government sought time of 12 weeks to complete the process of delimitation of seats in TPS and ZPS and also to provide reservation for OBCs, based on the newly set up commission’s report.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2022 3:18:43 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/hc-gives-12-weeks-to-govt-to-complete-delimitation-and-reservation-of-seats-in-tps-and-zps/article65457163.ece