Karnataka told to hold local bodies elections

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New Delhi, Feb 13: The Supreme Court today gave no option to the political parties in Karnataka and asked the Karnataka government to extend "full cooperation" to the state election commission in holding upcoming polls for urban local bodies. Major political parties in the state have been reluctant to hold elections to local bodies due to various reasons like dissensions and funds.

"Keeping in view the background facts and the orders passed by the High Court and this court, we consider it appropriate to direct the Chief Secretary of Karnataka government and subordinate officials to extend full cooperation in holding of elections for the urban local bodies," a bench headed by Justice GS Singhvi said.

The court also directed its registry to intimate the state government about its order by tomorrow on the issue. "No officials can make any attempt to frustrate the election process...," the bench said and allowed a PIL filed by Dalit Sangharsh Samithi to be withdrawn.

The ruling and opposition parties have joined hands as they don't want this poll to happen as the state will be going for assembly polls in Apr/May. If the parties give ticket to one person, ten other aspirants will raise voice and work against the party and no party is willing to take such risk before the big event like assembly elections. Apart from this many MLAs have to spend lot of money, both for local bodies and assembly elections.

The Supreme Court had earlier passed an order asking the SEC to announce calendar of events on any day after Feb 4 and complete elections to 44 city municipal councils, 93 town municipalities, 65 town panchayats and seven city corporations, except Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, before commencement of II PU exams on Mar 13.

The court had said the commission can go ahead to hold elections on the basis of 2011 census figures. The earlier elections to the local bodies in 2007 were held on the basis of the 2001 census figures. The court had also dismissed the Karnataka government's plea seeking postponement of the urban local body elections in the state.

SEC v/s Legislature

These elections have resulted in a sort of Constitutional logjam between the state government and the SEC. While the government wants to put off the polls, the SEC is all set to hold them.

Even the legislature adopted a resolution in both the Houses last week to defer the polls as the roster list has not been reworked and had unanimously passed the Karnataka Municipality and Certain Other Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, making it mandatory for the SEC to announce poll dates in concurrence with the government. But SEC CR Chikmath had already asked deputy commissioners in the districts to submit reports on ward reservation list based on 2007. Angry with this, the legislators had moved a privilege motion against Chikmath.

Summoned by speaker KG Bopaiah, the SEC, after holding talks with legislators, stood his ground on conducting the polls. "I'm bound by constitutional obligations and Supreme Court directions to conduct polls. As of now, the polls have been planned according to the 2007 ward reservation list. We're written to the DCs and I'm waiting for a report from them before announcing the calendar of events for the polls," Chikmath told reporters after meeting the speaker and business advisory committee (BAC) members.

The apex court judgment in Kishen Singh Tomar vs Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation's case was cited during the meeting and the need to conduct polls on time.

Meanwhile, the state government seems to have reconciled to the fact that it cannot stall these elections and sought funds for the polls. Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, who also holds the Finance portfolio, on Tuesday, presented supplementary estimates of Rs 5,822 crore in the Legislative Assembly for its approval. Of this the government has earmarked Rs 20 crore to State Election Commission towards preparations of Urban Local Bodies elections.

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