Hyderabad: Stating that it has not found any reason in the plea of TPCC president N. Uttam Kumar Reddy’s plea requesting to stay the election notification for 120 municipalities and 10 municipal corporations, the Telangana High Court on Tuesday allowed the State Election Commission (SEC) to go ahead with conducting elections to urban local bodies (ULBs), as per the notice issued on December 23, 2019.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Ra-ghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhi-shek Reddy dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the TPCC president, after a day-long hearing of both the petitioner’s side and the contentions of the SEC again-st the issuance of notice on December 23, which went on from the starting hour of the court at 10.30 am till 6 pm, exceeding the court’s closing time.
While hearing arguments, the bench made several observations that the petitioner and the SEC were both shifting their stands as per ‘convenience’ on the ULB election notification.
The petitioner initially submitted that the notification issued by SEC on December 23 should be treated as an election notification, but later switched the argument as it was not an election notification, when the bench expressed that its helplessness in giving relief in this plea by recalling the Supreme Court judgment in the case of N.P. Ponnuswamy versus returning officer, in which SC guidelines were framed that judiciary has no role once the election process started or an election notification was issued.
The bench pointed out that the submissions of SEC were self-contradictory to its submissions. It questioned how the SEC could issue two notifications for one election, when the SEC in the arguments had submitted that notification issued on December 23 was issued in terms of Section 195(2) of the Telangana Municipalities Act and it was going to issue an election notification on January 7.
With these contentions, the bench said that both parties were shifting arguments as per convenience.
Desai Prakash Reddy, senior counsel, representing Mr Uttam Kumar Reddy, in a four-hour long argument, submitted that the earlier notification was not in terms of provisions of the Municipalities Act, and therefore the subsequent steps including issuance of election notification on January 7 were illegal. He submitted that the state and the SEC went “acting in haste” to conduct elections “due to malafide intention”.
He submitted that without giving an opportunity to raise objections about the voters lists of SCs, STs, BCs and women, the pre-election process was completed in four days, whereas the government itself had submitted to the court, on earlier occasions, that it would require 58 days.
“The election process should not be run by the whims and fancies of the party in power. Condensing the time from 58 days to four days is an indication of an in-built malafide intention,” advocate Prakash Reddy said. He requested the court to direct the SEC to postpone the issuance of election notification for 10 days.
C.V. Mohan Reddy, representing the SEC, submitted that the notification issued on December 23 was an indicative notification to make the public aware that the elections would be held on January 22 and that a formal election notification would be issued on January 7.
After considering the contentions, the bench dismissed the PIL....