The Gujarat High Court Friday dismissed a petition challenging the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation election process as violating the constitution.
A division bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi, while pronouncing its reserved order, said that the provisions implemented by the state authorities were valid.
The bench noted that the state rules and the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act, 1994 were in harmony with the constitutional provisions.
Petitioner Pankajsinh Waghela had filed a public suit challenging the arrangement of having multi-member wards in the civic body.
He stated that in election of any governance body, the respective constituency is represented by an individual and the rule of ‘one member one vote’ is followed. However, in today’s scenario in the Ahmedabad city, there are 192 seats which are bifurcated into 64 wards.
The petitioner submitted that three people are elected as the representative of one single territorial constituency and hence three votes are cast by one person for election of three people in a single ward and sought that only one representative should be elected from one constituency.
While interpreting the constitutional provisions, the judges noted: ‘It is true that clause (4) of Article 243R is worded in such a way that it refers to wards of the municipalities having a single representative. However, Clause(2) of Article 243S permits the state legislature to make laws making provisions with respect to composition and territorial area of the Wards Committee and the manner in which the seats shall be filled.’
‘It is, therefore, for the state legislature to make suitable legislation providing for composition of the Wards Committee and the manner in which the Wards Committee of a multi-member wards shall elect its chairperson. In any case, we are of the view that such difficulties in working out the provisions of Article 243S in case of multi-member wards cannot govern the interpretation of Article 243R of the Constitution,’ the bench noted.
The court noted that interpretation of Article 243S cannot govern the provisions contained in Article 243R.
‘The constitutional provisions do not prohibit multi-member wards and as already noted the state legislature is competent to make laws with respect to election to the municipalities. Therefore, providing for multi-member wards through validly formulated state legislation, in our view is not impermissible.’
The court ruled that mone of the provisions contained in the BPMC Act or the Delimitation Rules of 1994 which were challenged in the petition violate constitutional provisions.
‘We have already held that state is competent to make laws with respect to municipal elections. Thus when we find that state neither lacks competence nor in our view any of the statutory provisions are in conflict with Article 243R or 243S of the Constitution or any other provision, challenge to the vires of said provisions must fail,’ it said.