Guj polls:HC rejects pleas against SEC order on reserved seats

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Ahmedabad, Feb 10 (PTI) The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday rejected a batch of petitions challenging the State Election Commission's (SEC) order regarding the rotation of reserved seats for the upcoming Panchayat polls, saying it would not intervene as elections are already notified to be held on February 28.

A division bench of Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Ilesh Vora said it would not go into the matter at the last minute.

One of the petitioners, Dinesh Gamit, a Scheduled Tribe candidate from Tapi district, sought the high court's direction to quash the SEC's order dated September 9, 2020, reserving Chimer seat in Tapi district Panchayat for 'ST Woman'. He requested that the seat be reserved for 'ST General' so that he could also contest.

The said constituency has been reserved for 'ST Woman' since the past two decades, due to which no male candidate could contest from there, he said.

As per the Rule 5 of the Gujarat Taluka and District Panchayats (Delimitation of Electoral Division) Rules, 2010, framed by the state government under the Gujarat Panchayat Act, 1993, the SEC should first publish a proposed order regarding the rotation of reserved seats, then invite suggestions from the general public before coming up with the final order, said the petitions.

As per the pleas, the SEC's order on allotment and reservation of seats is in violation of the said Rules 2010, because no objections, if any, was invited from the general public.

In its reply, the SEC had told the high court that the election programme for the said panchayat seat was already notified on January 23, and the elections are scheduled to be held on February 28.

It said the validity of delimitation and allotment of seats under Article 243-K of the Constitution (related to election to the Panchayats) cannot be questioned in any court.

And if at all, it can only be done by way of an election petition.

The SEC further said the right to contest the election flows from a statute and hence no fundamental rights or any other legal rights of the petitioner is infringed,as claimed in the plea, and hence the petition is not maintainable.

It had also said that the Rule 5 of the Delimitation Rules 2010 applies only when there is a fresh delimitation or allotment of reserved seats.

Since no no fresh delimitation or allotment was undertaken for the ensuing elections, it was not necessary to comply with the requirement under Rule 5 of the Rules 2010.

The local body elections are scheduled to be held in two phases on February 21 and 28. PTI KA NSK NSK