Uncertainty surrounding the BBMP election seems to have ended, with the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordering the Karnataka government to conduct the polls within three months.
In a turn of events, senior advocate Kapil Sibal who represented the Karnataka government submitted before the Apex Court that the government will hold the BBMP polls within three months. Senior advocate V Laxminarayana, who represented the petitioners, the BBMP corporators, gave Citizen Matters a brief of what went on inside the court hall.
The government advocate, Kapil Sibal clarified to the Supreme Court that the State government will not restructure the BBMP before the election, and the government was committed to conducting the election within three months. When the petitioners’ counsels questioned the logic behind seeking three months time, Sibal clarified that the government sought additional time due to the commencement of gram panchayat election in the State.
The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court presided over by Chief Justice H L Dattu, in its order upheld the judgment of the High Court single bench and quashed the judgment of the HC division bench. The High Court single bench had ordered the government to conduct polls before May 30th. When the government filed an appeal before the division bench questioning the single bench judgment, the division bench had given six months time to the government to conduct polls as the BBMP council was dissolved by then.
SC hears four petitions
Four petitions were filed in the Supreme Court questioning the HC division bench judgment. Apart from two former corporators, C K Ramamurthy and L Ramesh, Namma Bengaluru Foundation (NBF) and State Election Commission (SEC) too had filed the petitions. Rajyasabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar too filed a Special Leave Petition on the same.
Before admitting the case last week, the SC had asked the Karnataka government to submit the reason for the delay in holding elections to the BBMP. Advocate Kapil Sibal had then sought time till May 5th to file an affidavit on the matter.
In BBMP election case, interpretation of an outer limit of six months to hold the election if the council is dissolved, was the crux of the matter. During the High Court hearing, the government was of the view that six months were available for conducting election from the day of dissolving the elected body. However, the petitioners’ advocates had argued that six months’ time was not applicable if the government dissolves the body just a few days before the end of the council’s term. It would deprive people of their constitutional right to be a part of an election process once in every five years, the advocates had argued. However, the HC division bench presided over by Chief Justice D H Waghela, in its judgment gave six months’ time to the government to conduct the election.
Welcoming the SC judgment, Sridhar Pabbisetti, CEO of Namma Bengaluru Foundation, said that the judgment was in favour of the people. According to the 74th amendment of the Constitution, an election to constitute a Municipality should be completed once in every five years. The government should not delay the process on the pretext of restructuring or other reasons, he said.
With the latest development, it is interesting to see what stand will the government take on restructuring the BBMP. The BBMP Restructuring Committee headed by B S Patil is working on the modalities of restructuring BBMP for a better administration and is expected to submit its final report in June. The government so far had claimed that the election would be held post-restructuring. However, now, the government has submitted to the apex court that restructuring will not take place before the BBMP polls.
Gram Panchayath polls on May 29th and June 2nd
Meanwhile, the State Election Commission has announced the schedule for gram panchayat elections in the State. The polls for 5844 panchayats will be held in two phases. Election of panchayats under Mysore and Belagavi revenue divisions will be held on May 29th and for Bengaluru and Kaluburgi divisions will be on June 2nd. Counting of votes is scheduled for June 5th.
High Court to pronounce judgment on BBMP election on April 24th
HC directs State govt to conduct BBMP polls by May 30th
BJP Councillors to move court if BBMP polls are not conducted on time
HC stays declaration of BBMP election temporarily