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Supreme Court directs UP state election commission to hold Siswan Bazar municipal polls within 2 months

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The Supreme Court has recently directed the State Election Commission to ensure that elections for establishing the newly constituted Municipal Council, Siswan Bazar is conducted at the earliest and, in any case, within two months and report compliance in that behalf while disposing the special leave petitions.

The petitioner is an elected chairman of Nagar Panchayat, Siswan Bazar who was elected when the last election of the Nagar Panchayat was held on December 1, 2017. The State Government issued a  notification dated December 10, 2019  for constitution of the Municipal Council (Nagar Palika Parishad) in Siswan Bazar, Maharajganj comprising of 22 Revenue villages /17 Gram Panchayats around the Nagar Panchayat area.

Later, a PIL has been filed in the Allahabad High Court seeking directions to dissolve the erstwhile Nagar Panchayat, Siswan Bazar, Maharajganj and constitution of the Municipal Council and Ward Committee .

The High Court through its order dated February 8, 2021 directed the District Magistrate, Maharajganj to hold election of newly created Municipal Council, Siswan Bazar, as early as possible. In compliance of the High Court’s order, the State Government had issued an order dated June 2, 2021 for appointment of the Administrator in respect of the Nagar Palika Parishad Siswan Bazar citing the provisions of Sections 333, 333-A and 343 of the U.P Municipalities Act, 1916.

Moreover, the District Magistrate, Maharajganj appointed the Additional Sub Divisional Magistrate, Maharajganj as Administrator, Nagar Palika Parishad, Siswan, Bazar until further orders.

The directions have been issued by the Court in special leave petitions challenging the two orders of the Allahabad High Court.

The High Court order dated February 8, 2021 directed the District Magistrate, Maharajganj is directed to hold the election of newly created Municipal Council, Siswan Bazar, as early as possible, however not later than three months and the High Court’s order dated August 9, 2021 upheld the directions issued by State Government and District Magistrate for appointment Administrator Nagar Palika Parishad, Siswan, Bazar.

In the Supreme Court a Division Bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice CT Ravikumar noted that  the principal argument of the Petitioner(s) is that the status of Nagar Panchayat is not altered even though some new area has been added to its limits to make it a Municipal Council in terms of notification dated 31.12.2019.

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The Court said that argument though attractive, at the first blush, clearly overlooks the dispensation provided for under Article 243-Q of the Constitution of India.

“It refers to municipalities or Municipal Council areas of different types such as Nagar Panchayat, Municipal Council and Municipal Corporation, depending on the area and other factors to establish such an entity. Although, the notification refers to Section 3(2) of the Uttar Pradesh Municipalities Act, 1916  the fact remains that the area in question has been upgraded to Municipal Council area. It is, therefore, not a case of expansion of Nagar Panchayat area as is sought to be projected by the petitioner(s)”, 

-the Bench further noted.

Perhaps, keeping that in mind in another case, the Allahabad High Court vide order dated 09.08.2021 in Writ Petition(C) No. 13629 of 2021 rejected the claim of the Petitioner(s) therein on the finding that the Nagar Panchayat of which the Petitioner(s)’ claim to be elected representative had ceased to be in existence with the creation of Municipal Council (Nagar Palika Parishad) as defined in sub-Section (9-B) of Section 2 of the 1916, Act and with the creation of new municipality by virtue of the stated notification, the provision of Section 333 of the 1916 Act would follow. That view is a possible view , the Court opined.

Hence, the Court declined to interfere in both the special leave petitions.

However, it is pointed out by the Court that the High Court while dismissing the writ petition on 08.02.2021 vide impugned judgment in SLP(C) No. 4233 of 2021 had directed the authorities to ensure that the election of newly created Municipal Council Siswan Bazar be held as early as possible and not later than three months.

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The Top Court held that period had elapsed long back and the administrator continues to be in charge of newly created Municipal Council. That cannot be countenanced. The administration of the newly created Municipal Council ought to be entrusted to the elected representatives at the earliest opportunity, who will form the newly constituted Municipal Council.

The State must ensure that all logistical support is provided to the State Election Commission to ensure that the elections are conducted by adhering to appropriate Covid-19 protocol, as would be in force at the relevant time , the Court ordered.

“If there is laxity on the part of the State in ensuring completion of the elections within two months from today, the Chief Secretary of the State of Uttar Pradesh shall be personally responsible in that behalf,” the order reads.

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