THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The option of delaying the local body election by using a provision in Kerala Panchayat Raj Act will not be legally tenable as it goes against a Constitutional provision, caution legal experts.
Section 151(2) of Kerala Panchayat Raj Act states that “where the term of a panchayat has expired and a new panchayat has not been constituted, the government may by notification in the Gazette appoint a Special Officer or an Administrative Committee consisting of not less than three officers of the government as members for the administration of the panchayat.”The Act also says that the Administrative Committee or the special officer shall hold office for such period not exceeding six months, giving the state government the option of delaying the polls.
However, Article 243(E) of the Constitution clearly lays down that the newly-elected administrative councils in local bodies should assume office before the term of incumbent administrative councils expires. This means that the newly-elected representatives should assume office before November 1 when the term of the current local bodies expires.
According to legal expert Kaleeswaram Raj, a state statute cannot be used to overrule a Constitutional provision. “Article 243(E) of the Constitution has been incorporated through an amendment to ensure timely election of local bodies. A state statute cannot be used to extend the duration of election,” he said.
“Such a move would be legally untenable as Section 151(2) of the Kerala Panchyat Raj Act cannot sustain in the light of Article 243(E) of the Constitution,” he said. .
With the State Election Commission favouring conduct of polls as per the 2010 ward delimitation, another option before the government would be to follow poll panel’s recommendation.