Friday, June 2, 2023

SC hearing on ULB polls issue today

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday (May 1) the response of the Central government whether the constitutional scheme of 1/3rd reservation for women in the election to Municipalities and Town Councils, can be violated by the process so adopted by the Nagaland government vis-à-vis elections to the Municipal and town councils.
“We would like him to assist us (Additional Solicitor General) and place the stand of the Union of India on whether the constitutional scheme of 1/3rd reservation for Municipalities and Town Councils, in the opinion of the Central Government can be violated by the process so adopted by the Nagaland Government,” the court said during its hearing on April 17.
Observing that an “ingenious method” has been adopted to evade the undertaking given to the apex court about holding of the elections by repealing the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001, a bench of Justices S K Kaul and Aravind Kumar said it is an issue of women empowerment.
“We say so more in the context that in respect of the special provisions with respect of the State of Nagaland under Article 371A of the Constitution Of India, nothing has so far emerged to advance a plea that religious or social practices of Nagas or Naga Customary Law and Procedure denies the right of equality to women in so far as the participatory process is concerned in such elections,” added the court.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj, who was present for the Union of India, submitted that so far as the only reason for which notice was issued was to provide the relevant central force to carry out the panchayat elections.
“We have nothing personal but we are telling you it cannot be done. You cannot let a part of the country evade the constitutional scheme,” the bench told Nataraj. The court then granted ASG two weeks’ time to place their stand on record and listed the matter for May 1.
The apex court on April 5, 2023 stayed the March 30 order of the State Election Commission (SEC) to cancel the ULB polls in Nagaland in view of the repeal of the Nagaland Municipal Act 2001 by the State Assembly.
The apex court had noted in its March 14 order that the SEC counsel had submitted the elections will be held on May 16. It had directed the schedule shall not be disturbed now and the election process completed in terms of the schedule.
The petitioners moved an application before the top court through advocate Satya Mitra against the cancellation of the elections and urged it to take contempt action for “disobeying” the March 14 order.
Besides seeking quashing of the March 30 notification issued by the SEC cancelling the election programme, the application has also sought setting aside of the Nagaland Municipal (Repeal) Act, 2023.


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