13 Feb 2023 2:09 PM GMT
The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the Nagaland State Election Commission to notify local body elections and place before it the official notification by 14th March, 2023. “List for directions on 14th March, 2023 by which date the Election Commission is to place on record the official notification.”A Bench comprising Justice S.K. Kaul, Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Aravind Kumar...
The Supreme Court, on Monday, directed the Nagaland State Election Commission to notify local body elections and place before it the official notification by 14th March, 2023.
“List for directions on 14th March, 2023 by which date the Election Commission is to place on record the official notification.”
A Bench comprising Justice S.K. Kaul, Justice Manoj Misra and Justice Aravind Kumar was hearing a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and women rights activist Rosemary Dvuchu challenging the Nagaland Assembly's resolution dated September 22, 2021 exempting operation of Part IXA of the Constitution of India, which mandates 33% reservation for women, in Municipalities and Town Councils of the State.
In April, 2022, the State of Nagaland had informed the Apex Court that the State Government after holding a consultative meeting attended by all stakeholders had resolved to implement 33% reservation for women in local body elections.
Thereafter, on 29th July, 2022, the Apex Court had directed the State Election Commission (SEC) to complete the election process by January, 2023. However, it appears that the election process has not been notified yet. As per an affidavit filed by the State Election Commission, in January, 2023, the State Government had asked it to provide an election schedule. In response, two options for notifying the election programme has been provided by the SEC.
On Monday, the Bench was informed by the Advocate General for the State of Nagaland, Mr. KN Balgopal that the State has agreed to accept the first option and the State Election Commission can accordingly proceed with notifying the elections.
During the course of hearing, it was pointed out by Senior Advocate, Mr. Colin Gonsalves, appearing on behalf of PUCL, that the State Government in its latest affidavit filed in February, 2023 has resorted to the ground of violence and future violence to justify the delay in conducting the local body elections. He read out from the said affidavit -
“...In the circumstances if the elections of the local bodies were to be forced on the people of Nagaland there was every likelihood of violence, which the State wanted to prevent….hence the election could not be held.”
He submitted,“This statement of violence and future violence was used three times since 2009…”
The Advocate General apprised the Bench that the Eastern Nagaland People's Organisation passed a resolution against participating in the legislative assembly elections until their demand for a separate State was considered. He submitted that the Central Government has now made it clear that they will not accede to their demands and ENPO has agreed to participate in the election process.
Justice Kaul told the Advocate General, “The problem is of faith..Look at the order sheets, it is replete with some excuse or the other…”
Accordingly, the Bench recorded in the order that it does not appreciate the State delaying the election process, especially the one with reservation for women, on the ground of anticipation of violence.
“We have perused the affidavit filed by the State of Nagaland pointing out some resistance to the legislative Assembly elections …which issue has been sorted out. We, however, do not appreciate the stand sought to be taken in para 5 where a picture is sought to be painted of threat of violence. Local elections with reservations of women cannot be postponed under such threats. The elections have to be held.”
[Case Title: People Union For Civil Liberties (PUCL) v. The State of Nagaland| Civil Appeal No.3607/2016]
Click Here To Read/Download Order