Karnataka High Court issues notice to govt, EC, BBMP on ward delimitation rationale

Petitioner says splitting of wards done arbitrarily, is completely impractical
Karnataka High Court (Photo | EPS)
Karnataka High Court (Photo | EPS)

BENGALURU: Acting on a batch of petitions challenging the notification issued by the Urban Development Department, providing for delimitation of 243 wards of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the State Government, State Election Commission and BBMP.

Justice Hemant Chandanagoudar issued notice after hearing separate petitions filed by SD Gururaj, Shanthinagar Block Congress Committee, S Ismail Zabiulla and others, challenging the notification dated July 14, 2022.

One of the petitioners alleged that the notification splits wards into multiple portions, which fall within the physical boundaries of other constituencies. This is contrary to the requirement under Section 7(1)(b) of the BBMP Act, that a ward cannot be spread over more than one constituency. The splitting of wards has been done arbitrarily, without any rational basis, and is completely impractical. There has been no application of mind, a petitioner alleged.

“The wards are delimited into odd boundary shapes and geographical areas, resulting in citizens being required to travel long distances for basic civic requirements and public participation. This is not only inconvenient for citizens but creates a huge hurdle for administration of the ward as well. The delimitation exercise is based on population data from the 2011 census, which is outdated and inaccurate, due to the exponential increase in population by over 61 per cent since 2011,” the petitioner said.

Another petitioner alleged that the delimited wards have been subjected to different population criteria in the Assembly constituency of Chamarajpet, whereas in the neighbouring assembly constituencies and other constituencies in Bengaluru, delimitation has been done on more uniform principles. This arbitrary discrimination is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, and cannot be sustained, he claimed.

In another petition, it was alleged that delimitation had been done with an oblique motive to secure the upper hand for a particular political party, and make their win comfortable in the ensuing elections.

A petitioner alleged that the Scrutiny Committee formed after draft notification rejected critical objections, without providing any justifiable reasons. It has become evident that the state government has created odd-shaped wards, the petitioner said, giving the example of Ward 34 (Bande Mutt), Ward 1 (Kempegowda), Ward 105 (Belathur), Ward 152 (Byatarayanapura), Ward 153 (Yeshwantpur) and Ward 206 (Padmanabhanagar), in support of his claims.

BBMP ward reservation: 2,000 objections filed
The Urban Development Department (UDD) has received over 2,000 objections against reservation of wards coming under the Bengaluru Bruhat Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) limits. Wednesday was the last day for filing objections. The UDD had announced ward-wise reservation through a draft notification last week had given a week’s time to file objections. The department is likely to examine the objections and publish the final draft within seven days. The government earlier issued the final notification on ward delimitation and officially recognised 243 wards with some changes made mostly in names of wards. Kaverinagar ward in Mahalakshmi Layout assembly was renamed as Dr Puneeth Rajkumar ward as a tribute to the late Kannada actor. After the list for 243 wards was released last week, Congress leaders accused the UDD of being a puppet at the hands of the BJP government as many winnable and sitting corporators’ wards were reserved for women or Scheduled Castes. ENS

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