Court extends interim order on municipality

Staff Reporter

Kochi: A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, on Monday, extended till Friday the interim order directing status quo ante with respect to the Government Order declaring invalid the election of S.R. Balasubramanian, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillor, as deputy chairperson of the Palakkad municipality. The Bench extended the interim order when a writ petition filed by Mr. Balasubramanian and two other BJP councillors challenging the Government Order came up.

The petitioners contended that the order amounted to interference with the proceedings of the court, which had been seized of a writ petition challenging the validity of the election of the deputy chairperson. They submitted that the action of the Government stemmed from a desire to supersede the municipality. The Government could dissolve the municipality only under Section 64 of the Act, which can be used only if the civic body is unable to pass the budget or is facing a financial crisis.

Besides, the provisions in the Act stipulated that the administration of the municipality could be carried out even in the absence of a chairperson. Section 11(3) had provided that if the office of the chairperson was vacant, the deputy chairperson shall exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the chairperson. Therefore, the failure of the council to elect a chairperson could not be a ground for dissolving the council. The petitioners alleged that the action of the Government did not serve any interest of the administration.

More time granted

A Bench comprising Chief Justice Rajiv Gupta and Justice S. Siri Jagan granted the Government three months time to file a statement on the action taken to recover compensation from those who had damaged public and private properties while taking out processions and organising hartals.

The Bench had earlier directed the Governnment to file the statement on a petition filed by a Kochi-based organisation, Grama Jana Vedi.

Seeking to extend the stay, the Government pointed out that the Chief Secretary had issued instructions to the heads of departments and public sector units to file suits for recovery before the civil courts.

In fact, all the district collectors had furnished details of crimes registered against organisations and persons for causing damages to public and private properties.

More details of the action taken to recover damages were to be collected.

So, three months time was needed to file the statement.

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