Councillors Question Voting Rights for MPs, MLAs

Published: 02nd September 2015 04:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd September 2015 04:41 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU:The High Court on Tuesday adjourned hearing on a petition filed by M Prameela and a few other newly elected women BJP corporators challenging Section 7 of the KMC Act. The section gives voting rights to MPs, MLAs and MLCs in electing the mayor.

Stating that this matter needs to be heard thoroughly, Justice Raghvendra S Chauhan directed the state government to file objections before September 8, which is the next date of hearing.

Senior counsel Ashok Haranahalli,  representing the petitioners, argued that if 62 people, including MPs, MLAs and MLCs, are to be permitted to vote in the election, there would be no meaning in the directly elected 198 corporators electing the mayor. 

Haranahalli further contended that the MPs, MLCs and MLAs have not been given voting rights in the other local bodies, including the zilla panchayats, and giving them voting rights under the KMC Act would be unreasonable. The people’s representatives have a say only in addressing the civic issues and not in electing the mayor, he argued.

Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar countered it saying that the provision of the KMC Act is within the Constitutional framework.

He further argued that MPs, MLCs and MLAs cannot be expected to attend meetings of the gram panchayats which are more in number whereas muncipal corporations are very few. It was against this background that voting rights had been given, he argued. 

The petitioners’ contention is that permitting MLAs, MPs and MLCs to vote in Mayoral elections would destroy the concept of local self-government, inasmuch as the MLAs and MPs would be representing the same citizens that the directly elected councillors represent. This creates an anomaly as a person elected to a larger democratic body would affect the outcome of the Mayoral poll of a smaller democratic body.

Further, it also results in an absurd situation where the vote of a person elected to a larger democratic body representing a larger number of voters would have as much weightage as that of a directly elected councillor representing a far lesser number of voters.

“Permitting persons other than the directly elected councillors to vote will also erode the weightage of the votes of female councillors, who have been granted reservation of 50 per cent seats in the municipality,” they added.

Just in Jest

While hearing the arguments of petitioners’ counsel Ashok Haranahalli, Justice Raghvendra Chauhan noted in a lighter vein that the argument put forward by the petitioners resembled that of a girl, who wanted her father to make all arrangements for marriage, except choosing the boy. “It is like saying to a father that you book the mantap, florist, print invitations, invite the guests and make all other arrangements... except choosing the boy, which I will do,” the judge said, leaving everybody in splits.

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