HYDERABAD: Terming the content mentioned in the counter-affidavit filed earlier by the Telangana government regarding conduct of municipal elections as ‘vague and unclear’, a division bench of the High Court on Friday directed the State government to file a detailed additional counter affidavit by Tuesday, apprising the court of the reasons why some of the objections received by it in some of the municipalities could not be considered under the law.
The government, in its counter affidavit, has maintained a studied silence as to the procedure followed while considering the 665 objections and rejecting the remaining 708 objections out of 1373 received by it during pre-poll process, the bench observed.
Wondering at the government’s claim that the said objections were dealt with by the municipal commissioner concerned on the same day they were received, the bench remarked that it was rather surprising that such an elaborate procedure like placing the objections on the notice board, publishing the same in a local newspaper calling for suggestions from the general public, receiving the views of the legislators, having a municipal council meeting on the issue and so on could be completed within a short span of 24 hours.
Referring to the Telangana Municipalities Ordinance, 2019, which came into effect from July 23 this year, the bench asked the government to say how long it requires to complete the process to set apart the number of seats and offices of the chairpersons and mayors and those reserved for STs, SCs and BCs so that the total reservations shall not exceed 50 percent of the total seats and offices.
The bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akther was dealing with two PILs filed by advocate K Anjukumar Reddy from Nirmal district and S Malla Reddy from Medchal seeking a stay on issuance of notification to conduct municipal elections and to re-conduct entire pre-poll exercise in the manner as prescribed under the Telangana Municipalities Act.
No data given
During the course of the hearing, the bench found fault with the government’s decision to complete the entire pre-poll process for conduct of elections to municipalities as per the old Telangana Municipalities Act even after bringing in a new state Municipalities Act this year and for drastically reducing the time limit to complete the said process from the earlier 109 days to eight days. Before a single judge earlier, the state government has agreed to complete the pre-election process in 109 days and accordingly the judge has prescribed a time schedule for completion of each and every step.
However, the government, vide GO 459 dated June 29, 2019, has reduced the period of pre-election process from 109 days to eight days, the bench told the additional advocate general J Ramachandra Rao. No data was given regarding the necessity to take up delimitation of wards in respect of 123 municipalities, the bench noted.
After perusing the contents of the counter affidavit filed earlier by Principal Secretary to MAUD Arvind Kumar, the bench pointed out that though it was mentioned that the ward strength of each municipality was re-fixed, but not a single word was mentioned in the counter-affidavit as to which matter the said Ordinance was related to.
The bench made it clear to the AAG that the government has to answer all the queries raised by it by filing a detailed additional counter-affidavit by Tuesday. The bench posted the matter to August 21 for further hearing.