HC raps SEC for announcing municipal election schedule

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NT NETWORK

Panaji 

The High Court of Bombay at Goa on Monday rapped the state election commission for hurriedly notifying the municipal elections despite the pendency  of the petitions that have challenged the notification on  reservations and delimitation of municipal wards.

The state poll panel  contended that the election schedule has been notified because it wants to conclude the process before the budget session of the state legislative assembly starting on March 24.

The High Court appreciated the statement of the Advocate General representing the state  government that he will argue each petition on merit and will not take the defence that the election process has started.

The HC heard arguments on petitions, which have been filed by  petitioners challenging the reservations and delimitation of municipal wards.

Some of the petitions have stated that with the amendment to the act, the entire election process has now been reduced to only a few days, obviously with an intention to deprive prospective candidates a chance to  identify  the ward in which they can contest the election.

The exercise of altering or reconstituting wards of the municipal council, as also the identification and rotation of the seats for the reserved categories at the last minute, is not only arbitrary but will also cause grave injustice to the candidates who have been working in the wards with expectation of contesting the election, one of the petitions has stated.

The petitioners said that prospective candidates are required to know in advance the voters of the wards, reservation of wards so that they can plan to contest elections, and that this cannot be taken away by prescribing a very short schedule.

It has also been pointed out that this would only weigh in favour of the ruling party as they would have  knowledge in advance about the reservation of wards and would therefore amount to

inequitable treatment in the election process.

A former chairperson of the Sanguem municipal council  has filed an appeal before the High Court challenging the reservation of ward no 1 from the Sanguem municipal council for a candidate from the scheduled tribe despite the ward having hardly around two voters from the ST community.