SEC moves HC challenging new law that delays polls to ZPs, TPs by over a year

The State Election Commission (SEC) on Monday moved the High Court of Karnataka questioning the legality of enacting a law that has derailed the process already initiated by the SEC to hold elections to zilla pancyayats (ZPs) and taluk panchayats (TPs) across the State.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum, before whom the petition came up for hearing, ordered issue of notice to the State Government while adjourning further hearing.

The SEC 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.

Making it clear that SEC is not concerned with the State’s decision to withdraw powers but was only concerned about the timing about withdrawal of elections cannot be held as per constitutional mandate as the new law has also nullified the exercises of delimitation of seats and fixing of reservation already carried out and completed by SEC.

The State enacted the new law to take away powers earlier conferred on SEC for fixing the number of seats, carrying out the exercise of delimitation, and fixing the reservation of seats for TPs and ZPs. The law empowers the government to carry out these exercises.

It was pointed out in the SEC petition that terms of all ZPs expired in April-May 2021 and terms of all TPs expired between May and August, 2021, and elections were overdue.

The SEC had notified delimitation of territorial constituencies on March 30, 2021, and determined reservation for seats on April 30, 2021, of all ZPs and TPs. Later the SEC published final voters list for all the seats in these panchayats in June, the petition stated.

The SEC said that the draft reservation of seats by rotation was notified for the reserved seats in July and the High Court in August stayed the draft notification before finally dismissing such petitions as being withdrawn on September 6.

Pointing out that holding of elections within time was already affected due to COVID-19 pandemic and operation of stay order of the High Court on draft reservation list, the SEC has said that new law enacted by the government defeats the very purpose of timely holding as mandated in the Article 243-E of the Constitution.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 2:50:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sec-moves-hc-challenging-new-law-that-delays-polls-to-zps-tps-by-over-a-year/article37871939.ece

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