New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the operation of Gujarat High Court order dismissing a plea challenging the holding of local body polls under certain provision which increased the number of councillors in a particular ward to four.
A bench of justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre issued notices to Gujarat government, state election commissioner and others seeking their reply within two weeks on the plea challenging certain provisions of Gujarat Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, Gujarat Local Authorities Laws (Amendment) Act, 2009 and Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Rules.
The apex court's directions came on the plea of four Vadodara residents, who challenged the July 29 decision of the Gujarat High Court dismissing their petition.
Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Haren Raval, appearing for them, contended that the multi-member ward election violated fundamental rights of reservation and representation as enshrined in the Constitution.
"Rule 4 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation (Delimitation of Wards in the City and Allocation of Reserved Seats) Rules, 1994 states that all wards shall be multi-member wards with 3 councilors. This was amended in the year 2015 increasing the number of councillors to 4 in each ward...
"This amendment did not take into account the specific requirements of each ward and for reservation purposes did not take into account the latest available census data so that proportionate representation could be given to the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes," said the plea filed through advocate Anirudh Sharma.
It was contended that "the manner in which Gujarat government as well as the state Election Commission had decided to conduct elections of councillors to different Municipal Corporations, was unconstitutional and invalid".
The local body polls in 253 municipalities, 208 taluka panchayats, 26 district panchayats and six municipal corporations are expected to be held in October this year.