Kerala local body poll | High Court won't intervene in ward reservation muddle

The Kerala High Court
The court said elections will have to be postponed if they were to intervene at this stage.

Kochi: With the process of filing of nominations for the local bodies’ poll beginning from Thursday, the Kerala High Court has stated that it will not hereafter intervene in matters concerning reservation of wards or electoral subdivisions in a village, municipality or city.

Its announcement follows its rejection for the third time 87 petitions filed against reserving wards in local bodies. Even though similar petitions were admitted earlier, the court said elections will have to be postponed if they were to intervene at this stage.

However, the court pointed out that the discrepancies pointed out in the earlier orders could have been removed by the State Election Commission.

It is not practical to consider each petition separately and take a decision. The court said it honoured the Supreme Court verdict which categorically states that judicial intervention should not be in a manner which affected the elections.

The court said that it had expected the State Election Commission to review the existing mechanism based on the earlier order which made it clear that reserving wards for two consecutive elections was against Constitution. Instead the SEC announced the elections while similar petitions were pending before the court. It opposed the petitions on technical grounds but did not go into the merits and demerits.

Justice P B Suresh Kumar made it clear that they are exercising restraint in interfering with the writ rights.

Scope for flood of petitions?

Even though the petitions filed in the high court challenging reservation of wards for consecutive terms have not been benefited the petitioners, the verdict of the high court will be guideline for the State Election Commission for its future decisions. Whether this legal issue will pave the way for election petitions remains to be seen.

Some people had expressed the apprehension in the court that since questions cannot be raised through election petition, the complaint will go unresolved. Usually election petitions are filed raising a host of issues including irregularities in election process.

Is such a situation, any complainant may argue that the local body elections are not in consonance with the Constitution and they are against the Panchayat/Municpalities Act.

A few wards in a local body are often earmarked for women and communities enjoying constitutionally mandated reservation for electoral contests.

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