Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Delhi High Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Rotation Of Wards For Reserved Categories In Upcoming Municipal Polls

Suhavi Arya
3 Feb 2022 11:00 AM GMT
Delhi High Court Dismisses Plea Challenging Rotation Of Wards For Reserved Categories In Upcoming Municipal Polls
x

The Delhi High Court has dismissed two petitions challenging a notification issued by the State Election Commission last month, changing the seats reserved in some wards under the General and Scheduled Caste category, for the upcoming municipal elections on the basis of descending order of percentage of population.The Division Bench comprising of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet...

The Delhi High Court has dismissed two petitions challenging a notification issued by the State Election Commission last month, changing the seats reserved in some wards under the General and Scheduled Caste category, for the upcoming municipal elections on the basis of descending order of percentage of population.

The Division Bench comprising of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh noted that relied reservation and rotation of seats for SC/ST members in municipal seats is not prohibited under Article 243T(1) of the Constitution.

The Court further noted that the power for rotation for the seats reserved for Scheduled Castes in different wards is vested upon the Central Government, and the delegation of this power to the State Election Commission (via a 1993 notification) has not been challenged.

Through the impugned reservation notification dated 25 January 2022, it was announced that 46 of the total of 272 wards in the three civic bodies are reserved for SC candidates, including women, while 114 general category seats have been kept for women candidates.

The Petitioner, Manoj Kumar Jha belongs to General Category and submitted that he is being adversely affected on account of the impugned notification whereby Ward No.77-S (Sangam Vihar-A) is being reserved for the Scheduled Castes category and consequently thereof the Petitioner will be deprived from contesting the forthcoming Municipal Elections.

It was contended that that Rotation of Wards cannot be done on basis of descending order of percentage of population of the Scheduled Castes.  

"In the impugned Notification dated 25.01.2022, reservation has been done on the basis of descending order of percentage of population of the Scheduled Castes, therefore, the above-said Notification is unconstitutional and is contrary to the Article 243T of the Constitution of India," the plea stated.

On behalf of the Petitioner Pankaj Sharma, it was argued that rotation of reserved seats is under the purview of State Assembly only and not the State Election Commission. A bare reading of Article 243 of the Constitution makes it clear that the State legislature is responsible for the functioning of Article 243 T. Further, the MCD Act, 1957 was subsequent to the abolition of Assembly in Delhi by the State Reorganization Act, 1956. He also highlighted that Section 3 and 5 of the Act do not differentiate between Central govt, State government, and the Assembly.

Moreover, it was highlighted that the rotation was not made mandatory as it is contingent on the census and even after the census it is discretionary based on the demographic demand and the discretion rests with the Assembly. The impugned rotation is based on the old 2011 census, which does not represent the current demography of the region. The 2021 census were not conducted on account of the pandemic.

It was further argued that Section 9(1)(d) of Delimitation Act clearly specify to reserve the seats for Scheduled Castes on basis of the largest population in the Municipal Wards.

"Article 243T of the Constitution of India do not provide any such procedure whereby general category can be converted into Scheduled Castes ward or to rotate the general ward with wards being reserved for Scheduled Castes category," the Petitioner had further contended.

Counsel for Delhi State Election Commission, Advocate Sumeet Pushkarna argued that rotation is not only mandatory but also necessary. He stated that the preamble of the Delimitation Act 2002 refers only to State Assembly Elections and Lok Sabha elections but not municipal elections. Delimitation for the purpose of municipal elections is dealt with in Section 5 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, 1957.

Advocates Navin K Jha, Manish Bhardwaj and Arun Maitri appeared for petitioners; Advocate Devanshu Lahiry for State Election Commission, ASC (Civil, GNCTD) Sameer Vashisht with Advocate Sanjana Nangia for Respondent. 

Case Title: Pankaj Sharma v. State Election Commission, WP (C ) 1892/2022 connected with Manoj Kumar Jha v. State Election Commission & Ors., WP (C ) 2027/2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 79

Next Story