Gujarat HC quashes ordinance delaying civic polls

Gujarat Global News Network, Ahmedabad

In a blow to the state government the Gujarat High Court today quashed an ordinance to delay the civic polls and ordered to conduct elections before the expiry of terms. The HC termed the ordinance as “unconstitutional”.

The ruling BJP was in a shock after the HC directive which means that the elections will have to be held byNovember 15 during Diwali time. State Minister and spokesperson Nitin Patel said that the government would take legal opinion and decide further course of action. He added that it would be very difficult to organize polls during Diwali time.

The court also came down heavily on the Gujarat SEC for using government ordinance to postpone local bodies polls for three months, saying its act was “illegal” and its attitude regarding timely conduct of polls was “negative”.

The ordinance amending section 7(a) of Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 8(A) of Municipality Act and 257 of Panchayat Act “is unconstitutional and void and hence quashed and set aside,” HC division bench of acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice N V Anjariya said.

The state government had delayed the civic polls fearing backlash by the powerful Patidar community which has launched a state wide agitation for reservation. BJP fears that the Patidars would not support them and opposition Congress would gain from it.

On October 3, the state government had issued a notification postponing local bodies polls for three months citing law and order problem. On the same night, the SEC had issued a notification postponing local bodies polls for three months, citing law and order situation in the wake of Patel quota agitation.

The notification stated that elections to six municipal corporations, 56 municipalities, 230 taluka panchayats and 31 district panchayats were expected to be held between October and November this year as the term of these bodies is expiring in the period, but now they will take a call on it after three months.

“Action of the State Election Commission (to postpone the local body polls) is illegal and thus it is set aside and quashed,” the High Court said today.

“The State Election Commission must begin the programme of elections prior to 45 days of completion of terms of all the local bodies,” the HC further said.

The court observed that “the action of the state and SEC is against the spirit of the Constitution”.

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