Thursday, February 2, 2023

Supreme Court reserves order on Goa plea against HC order quashing polls in five municipalities

The Bombay High Court at Goa had allowed the SEC to continue the election process in other municipalities striking down in one out of five municipalities for not reserving wards for the women as required under the law.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order on a plea filed by the State of Goa challenging the order dated March 1, 2021, passed by the Bombay High Court at Goa by which it had set aside and quashed the notification for elections in the five municipalities. (The State of Goa & Anr. Vs Fouziya Imtiaz Shaikh & Anr.)

A three-judge bench headed by Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, B. R. Gavai and Hrishikesh Roy has reserved its order on Tuesday on an appeal against the High Court order which had set aside the election notification in the municipalities of Margao, Mapusa, Mormugao, Sanguem and Quepem. The Apex Court has directed parties to file their written submissions by March 12, 2021.

The Apex Court on 04/03/2021 had issued notices to the state election commission and Fouziya Imtiaz Shaikh, a petitioner in the High Court who had filed a caveat to prevent any ex-party order.

The Apex Court in its order dated March 4, 2021 had said,

“Having heard Mr. Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General for the petitioner, Mr. Atmaram NS. Nadkarni, learned Senior Advocate for the Respondent No.1 and Mr. Abhay Anil Anturkar, learned counsel for the Respondent No.2, we stay the impugned direction of the High Court as well as the Election Commission notification which is in pursuance of the High Court judgment.”

The Bombay High Court at Goa had allowed the SEC to continue the election process in other municipalities while striking down one in the five municipalities for not reserving the wards for women as required under the law.

After the Bombay High Court decision stopped by the Apex Court, the SEC can go ahead with the elections in the five municipalities that were kept in abeyance.

The Bombay High Court had said in its order that, “The impugned order dated 04/02/2021 issued by the Director and exofficio Additional Secretary, Municipal Administrator/ Urban Development, Goa in so far as it concerned the Municipal Council of Sanguem, Mormugao, Mapusa, Margao and Quepem is quashed and set aside.”

It had directed the Director and ex-officio Additional Secretary, Municipal Administrator/Urban Development, Goa to issue fresh notification under sub-section 1 of Section 9 r/w. Subsection 1 of Section 10 of the Goa Municipalities Act, 1968 within a period of 10 days from today, thereby ensuring inter alia, reservation for women of not less than on-third of the total number of seats reserved for direct elections to the Municipal Councils.

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The Bombay HC at Goa had said,

“While exercising the power afresh and rectifying the gross illegalities pointed out in our judgment and order, the Director shall give due weightage to our observations made therein. The State Election Commission of Goa is directed to expeditiously notify the election programme, on the order for reservation of seats in the Municipal Councils being issued by the Director, Respondent No.2 and the State Election Commission shall align the schedule of election in a manner, to ensure its completion by fixing up its various stages as per the Goa Municipalities (Election) Rules, 1969 and the culmination of the process on or before 15th April,2021.”

The Bombay High Court at Goa had observed in its order that,

“Elections are the central institution of democratic representative governance, since in the democratic setup, the authority of the Government derives solely from the concept of the governed. The principal mechanism for translating that consent into governmental authority is the holding of free and fair elections. Democratically elected nations burgeon on absolutely free and impartial elections and India being a colossal democracy demands such a process.”

Read the Bombay High Court at Goa Order and the Supreme Court Order



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