HC stays earlier verdict barring repetitive quota for civic body chiefs

HC stays earlier verdict barring repetitive quota for civic body chiefs
The Kerala High Court

Kochi: The division bench of the Kerala High Court has set aside the verdict of its single bench ordering for freeing up the posts of local body chiefs from the continued reservation on gender or community basis.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice S Mani Kumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly observed that the intended changes by barring continuous reservation of posts cannot be implemented without affecting the ongoing election process for civic bodies and ordered a ban on the reorganization ordered by the single bench.

The division bench observed that the single bench directive which affected the election process was not fair. In the Ponnuswamy case, the Supreme Court had categorically stated that courts should not make interventions that could affect the election process. The state election commission is vested with the powers to conduct elections to the governing councils and posts of chairpersons/presidents as per the Panchayat and Municipality Act, it said.

The court said that if anyone has a complaint that constitutional norms and rule have been violated, it can be questioned legally after the elections.

The state government and the state election commission had appealed against the single-bench intervention in the election process at the last stage.

It may be recalled that the single bench in its order had pointed out that reserving the posts of chairperson or president alternately for women and SC/ST categories for three successive times and reserving the post for the same category for a second time should be avoided and they should be rescheduled accordingly.

The court had also made it clear that the Constitution does not intend to reserve the post of chairperson/president permanently in any place. Denying the opportunity to candidates belonging to the general category consecutively to become president/chairperson will amount to reverse discrimination. Equal opportunity will be denied if the rotation system is not followed. Any reservation for the post of chairperson/president without complying with the rotation mechanism prescribed under the constitution is illegal, the court said.

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