Hyderabad: Showing no inclination to pass orders to conduct elections in gram panchayats which would be merged into nearby municipalities or corporations. the Telangana High Court questioned the state government about the inclusion of villages into cities and towns in the name of urbanisation.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice A. Rajasheker Reddy was dealing with a batch of 100 petitions that challenged the merger of more than 50 villages into municipalities and amendments to the Telangana Municipalities Act. The bench asked the state government how it could kill gram panchayats in the name of urbanisation.
The bench said that after the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments, local body governments had become more powerful and the state governments could not control them. It said that without an empirical study on the socio-economic issues of the villages, the state government should not include villages in the name of expansion of urban areas.
Chief Justice Radha-krishnan commented, “Just seeing the boys in the villages wearing jeans and chewing gum does not mean that the village is urbanised. Several facts related to employment, earnings and livelihood have to be considered.”
Counsels for the petitioners Vedula Venkata-ramana and Bollu Rachana Reddy submitted that in the recent notification for gram panchayat elections, the authorities had not included the villages even after the single judge stayed the merger of some villages.
They challenged the newly introduced Section 3A of the Telangana Municipal Corporations Act. After recording the assurance of the Additional Advocate General that elections would be conducted forthwith in the merged villages if the petitioners succeeded, the court posted the matter to January 21, for a final decision.
The AAG agreed that in case the final hearing went in favour of the petitioner, the state government would hold elections in those villages by issuing a supplementary notification within 21 days.
Meanwhile, a batch of petitions was filed before the High Court challenging the 100 per cent reservations in the gram oanchayat elections which
are located in tribal areas. Petitioners submitted that this type of reservations crossed the 50 per cent reservation cap. The cases were posted for hearing after Sankranti vacations.