More Than 23,000 Local Bodies Functioning Without Elected Representative - SC On MP Not Holding Elections For Last Two Years
A Supreme Court Bench of Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice Abhay S. Oka, and Justice C.T. Ravikumar heard a Writ Petition assailing the validity of Section 10(1) of the Madhya Pradesh Municipal Act, 1956, Sections 12, 23, and 30 of the Madhya Pradesh Panchayat Raj Avam Gram Swaraj Adhiniyam, 1993 and Section 29 of the Madhya Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1961 as being arbitrary and usurping the powers and independence of the State Election Commission.
The Bench in this context held that despite the constitutional mandate of holding elections, the reality in the State of Madhya Pradesh is that more than 23, 263 local bodies are functioning without an elected representative for the last two years or more.
The Court held -
"Despite such constitutional mandate, the reality in the State of Madhya Pradesh as of now, is that, more than 23,263 local bodies are functioning without the elected representatives for last over two years and more. This is bordering on break down of rule of law and more so, palpable infraction of the constitutional mandate qua the existence and functioning of such local self- government, which cannot be countenanced. By the amendments, the State Government was authorized to issue notification from time to time to determine the number and extent of wards to be constituted in the concerned local boded."
The Supreme Court noted that it was constitutionally mandated that the newly elected body is installed in every local body before the expiry of 5 years term of the outgoing elected body.
Further, the Court opined that the fact that the State legislature had effected amendments in the concerned enactments authorizing the State Government to determine the number and extent of wards to be constituted in the local bodies within the State also cannot be a tangible or legitimate ground to not notify the election programme within the time-frame specified by the Constitution and the law made by the Legislature.
The Court held that the amendment effected to the stated enactments cannot be reckoned as a legitimate ground for protracting the issue of the election programme of the concerned local bodies.
To that end, the Court directed the Madhya Pradesh State Election Commission to proceed on a notional basis and issue an election programme in respect of the concerned local body by reckoning the delimitation/formation of wards within a period of 2 weeks.
Further, the Court held that the Commission is expected to make recommendation regarding the number of seats to be reserved for Other Backward Classes "local body wise".