Saturday 15 May 2021

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SC raps Goa Govt, scraps 5 civic polls, delivers nationwide verdict on SEC

 

It was a court case regarding uneven reservation of wards in the civic polls of Goa. Going to the root cause of it, the Supreme Court has delivered a historic judgement for the whole country - no government officer can hold the constitutional post of the State Election Commissioner. All should step down immediately.

The overconfident step of Goa Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant of challenging the high court order boomeranged on all the ruling parties nationwide, who were ‘managing’ elections of self-governing bodies by appointing their officers as Commissioners. 

MOCKERY OF CONSTITUTION

The apex court also scrapped the ongoing election process of five municipal councils in Goa and rapped the BJP government of Goa for making “mockery of the Constitution of India.”

As a result, all the state election commissioners, who are serving the state governments across the country, have to now step down immediately. The constitutional post would be henceforth held by an independent person. 

A bench comprising Justices RF Nariman, B R Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy issued directions under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, as follows:

“All states and territories in India shall henceforth ensure that it has an Independent State Election Commissioner as mandated under Article 243(4) of the Constitution.”

Goa is going for civic polls of 11 municipal councils and the Corporation of Panaji city on 20th March. 

On 4th February, the Director of Municipal Administration had issued notification about reservations of wards for the women, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and the Other Backward Classes. 

Since the reservations were not done in uniform manner, the notifications regarding five municipalities - Mormugao, Margao, Mapusa, Quepem and Sanguem - were challenged in the high court by several political parties. 

It was pointed out that no one third seats are reserved for women. 

THE ‘GOVT’ SEC OF GOA

In spite of this, on 22nd February, SEC C R Garg, who is also the state law secretary, announced the election schedule - polling on 20th March and counting on 22nd March. 

On 1st of March, the high court bench of Justices Bharati Dangre and Mahesh S Sonak struck down the DMA notification regarding reservations, ordered to reconduct the exercise of reservations in these five municipalities and complete the whole election process by 15th of April. 

Instead of following the order, Dr Sawant’s BJP government rushed to the Supreme Court, challenging the high court order. 

On 4th March, the apex court stayed the high court order, pending hearing of the case. 

But the SEC did not wait for the hearing to complete. SEC-cum-Law Secretary Garg once again restored the old notification of the election schedule of five municipal councils. 

And now, after hearing all the sides, the Supreme Court today upheld the high court order.

Goa SEC has been now told to notify fresh reservations of five civic bodies in 10 days and complete the election process by 30th April. 

As Garg has to step down immediately, the state government has to now appoint a new SEC to conduct the ongoing election process of six civic bodies and restructure wards of the remaining five bodies and announce its election schedule. 


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