Hyderabad: Paving way for the government and the State Election Commission to hold elections for urban local bodies (ULBs) in the state, the Telangana High Court on Tuesday dismissed pleas that sought directions to not issue election notifications to hold municipal polls until the entire pre-election process was redone.
However, the Court made it clear that the state has to clear hurdles in the form of writ petitions, which are currently before a single judge. The judge has imposed a stay in conducting elections in 75 municipalities and a municipal corporation, as the pre-election process was not done in keeping with the rules of the Municipalities Act.
The High Court Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Sin-gh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy delivered their verdict, which was reserved on October 1, after the completion of arguments in two Public Interest Litigation (PILs) filed by BJP leader K. Anju Kumar Reddy and another individual Dr S. Malla Reddy. The PILs alleged that the state government had not followed rules of the Act.
The Court pronounced that the two petitions lack merit and the petitioners had not submitted any evidence to substantiate their allegations.
“Most importantly, counsels for the petitioners have failed to show a single case of mis-identification or non-identification of an SC, ST, BC or woman voter. Therefore, their allegation that there may be cases of mis-identification, or non-identification is a vague allegation being made without any cogent evidence”, the Bench noted.
The Chief Justice said that a person, who may have been mis-identified, or non-identified, has not approached this Court. Therefore, the allegations made by the petitioners, with regard to this possibility, is clearly unacceptable.
The petitioner’s contention was that pre-poll process, like de-limitation of wards and identification of the STs, SCs, BCs and woman voters in electoral rolls in all 132 municipalities was completed in a hasty manner, without intimating concerned public representatives or giving adequate time to raise objections.
They raised the fact that the state had completed pre poll process in just nine days, after requesting the single judge to give 140 days to complete it, to which the judge granted 109 days.
Not agreeing with the contentions of the petitioners, the Bench mentioned in its order that the time frame prescribed by the single judge was maximum time permissible and not minimum time prescribed. With technological advancement, identification of voters and pre poll process can easily be carried out, the Bench opined.
Making clear that it won’t allow petitions to stop elections without submitting evidence, the HC referred to the Supreme Court observation in the Anugrah Narain Singh Case, “if holding of elections is allowed to be stalled on complaint of a few individuals, then grave injustice would be done to crores of other voters, who have a right to elect their representatives. In the issue of holding municipal elections also, pendency of claims and objections cannot arrest the process of election.”
The Bench reminded Article 243-ZG(b) of the Constitution, which prescribes that an election to any municipality can be questioned only through an election petition....