Delimitation of local bodies: Kerala Assembly passes Bills without discussion or reference to subject committee

Updated - June 11, 2024 02:16 pm IST

Published - June 10, 2024 08:15 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The Kerala Assembly on Monday passed the Kerala Municipality (Second Amendment) Bill and the Kerala Panchayat Raj (Second Amendment) Bill, meant for delimitation of local body wards, without discussion and without referring to a subject committee, amid protests by Opposition MLAs over alleged bribery allegations related to the upcoming liquor policy.

Later, speaking to mediapersons, Minister for Local-Self Governments M.B. Rajesh said the Bill was passed without any discussion as it had earlier taken up in the House in 2020, when it was discussed in the Assembly and sent to the subject committee, and later passed in the Assembly. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the delimitation exercise could not be taken up and the changes in the Bills had to be reversed by another amendment, he said.

However, later in the day, Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said in a statement that the act of passing the Bills without discussion and reference to the subject committee took away the Opposition’s right to move amendments.

The Speaker had allowed the Bills to be passed without referring to the subject committee, as was decided earlier. Such undemocratic acts taking away the rights of the Opposition cannot be approved of, he said.

The Bills are aimed at increasing the number of wards in local bodies in the State, as per the latest population figures, ahead of the local body elections next year.

As per the current arrangement of seats, prepared as per the 2001 Census, municipal councils have a minimum of 25 councillors for a population that does not exceed 20,000, and one each for every additional 2,000 population, with a maximum of 52 councillors.

In the municipal corporations, the minimum number is 55 councillors for four lakh population and one each for every additional 10,000 population, with a maximum of 100 councillors.

Considering the increase in population as per the 2011 Census, the minimum and maximum number of seats of councillors in the municipalities will now be increased by one each, to reduce the ratio between population and the number of councillors.

In the case of grama panchayats and block panchayats, at present, the number of seats cannot be less than 13 or more than 23, while in district panchayats, it cannot be less than 16 or more than 32. The minimum and maximum numbers in all these cases will now be increased by one.

Close to 1,200 new wards are expected to be added across local bodies in the State after the delimitation exercise, which will carried out by a delimitation commission headed by the State Election Commissioner.

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