Hold Bengaluru civic polls in six months: HC

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Bengaluru, Apr 24: A division bench of the Karnataka High Court on Friday directed the state government and the state Election Commission to hold polls to the Bengaluru civic body in the next six months.

The division bench of Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice Ram Mohan Reddy set aside the March 30 directive of the same court's single-judge bench to the poll panel for holding election to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) by May 30.

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The bench expressed reservations over the state government's decision to supersede the civic body on April 18 when its five-year term was ending on April 22 and getting an amendment bill passed in the legislative assembly on April 20 to split BBMP into two or three entities.

"The election to the civic body should be held as per the 74th amendment, which was upheld by the Supreme Court," the bench told state Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar, who filed a review petition on April 7 against the March 30 order of the single-judge bench.

Kumar assured the bench that the government would abide by its order and facilitate the poll panel to hold the civic elections in 198 wards across the city within six months.

The two original petitioners C.K. Ramamurthy and B. Somashekar, who were the BJP corporators in the dissolved BBMP, said they would approach the Supreme Court next week against the postponement of the civic polls.

When counsel Lakshminarayana of the ex-corporators sought a week's stay on the order to allow him to approach the apex court, the bench declined to oblige.

The BJP's state unit also said it would file a review petition in the apex court against the high court order to ensure that the civic polls were held by May 30. [Karna HC questions timing of govt to trifurcate BBMP]

The state government sought more time to hold the civic polls on the grounds that delimitation of the wards, restructuring of the civic body and reservation in many wards as per the 2011 census were not completed for various reasons.

Though arguments and counter-arguments were completed on June 22 after three hearings over the last two weeks, the division bench reserved its order till Friday.

The BBMP was expanded in 2007 by including seven city municipal councils and one town municipal council and 111 surrounding villages to increase civic wards to 198 from 100 earlier.

Though the amendment bill to split BBMP was passed in the lower house by voice vote after the opposition parties (BJP and Janata Dal-Secular) protested against it and walked out, it is held up in the legislative council for debate and voting.

In the 74-member upper house, the opposition BJP and JD-S, which have more members than the ruling Congress, urged the government to refer the bill to a select committee of the legislature in a bid to thwart bifurcating or trifurcating the BBMP before the elections to it are held by October.

If the bill is defeated in the council when it resumes on Monday for debate and voting, it will be sent to the assembly for approval again before sending it to Governor Vajubhai Vala for consent.

IANS

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