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Delhi High Court rejects fresh plea by Delhi SEC on rotating reserved seats

The Delhi High Court, on Wednesday, refused to entertain a fresh plea challenging a notification issued by the Delhi State Election Commission rotating seats reserved for General and Scheduled Caste category, for the forthcoming municipal corporation elections.

The Division Bench comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh, while dismissing the instant petition, orally reiterated that-
“It is for the State Election Commission to rotate. There is a constitutional scheme for rotation, they have rotated. There is no reason for us to interfere with it.”

At the outset, the State Election Commission of Delhi, issued a notification on January 25th revising the list of municipal wards that will be reserved for women and Scheduled Castes in the three Municipal Corporations in the national capital, for the upcoming civic polls due to be held in April this year.

Section 3 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment) Act, 2011, provides that the number of seats to be reserved for the members of Scheduled Castes shall as nearly as may be, bear the same ratio to the total number of seats as the population of Scheduled Castes bears to the total population of the respective Corporation as per the last Census.

According to the above-mentioned notification, the already existing reserved wards have been de-reserved and new wards on rotation basis have been reserved for the upcoming elections. For the purpose, in each Corporation, the wards with highest percentage of Scheduled Castes, in descending order, next to the last ward reserved for that category in 2017 have been taken in accordance with the mandate of the Act.

The petition has been filed by Advocate Himanshu Gupta on behalf of one Nirmal Gupta, who is aggrieved by his inability to contest the upcoming elections to the East Delhi Municipal Corporation from any of the four wards under Rohtash Nagar Assembly Constituency, namely Ashok Nagar, Ram Nagar, Rohtas Nagar, and Welcome Colony, on account of the alleged notification by way of which all four seats in the said Constituency have been reserved for either Woman or SC candidate.

Relying on the decision of the Delhi High Court in the case of “Ramesh Dutta vs. The State Election Commission, wherein criteria for determining the manner of allotment of seats of SC in the
municipal elections was derived so as to ensure that the seats reserved for scheduled castes are not concentrated and are equally spread throughout the area under MCD jurisdiction, the plea alleges that the impugned notification leads to bunching of seats. The plea further alleges that issuing notifications regarding reservation at last moment is a flawed practice and has severe implications on people intending to contest elections.

In light of the above, the plea sought for quashing of the alleged notification on the ground that the same is illegal, arbitrary and unjust; as also a direction to the State Election Commission to ensure that reservation of SC seats is spread over to the wards having maximum SC population.

The Bench had earlier dismissed two other petitions filed challenging the same notification while noting that- “Despite our repeated questioning as to where is the prohibition against the SEC, to implement the Constitutional/Statutory mandate of rotation of reserved seats/wards, there is no answer forthcoming.”

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