Kolkata, Aug 25 (PTI) The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday upheld the constitution of a board of administrators to supervise the functioning of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) upon the councillors' tenure expiring and holding of elections not possible owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A division bench comprising justices Sanjib Banerjee and Aniruddha Roy held that the notification of May 6, 2020 on the setting up of the board of administrators does not offend constitutional propriety or the mandate of any legislative provision.
'Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures,' the bench observed.
The West Bengal government issued the notification to appoint a 14-member board of administrators comprising members who were a part of the outgoing Mayor-in-Council of the KMC and the chairperson is the outgoing Mayor Firhad Hakim, who is also the state's Urban Development and Municipal Affairs minister.
Two writ petitions challenged the notification claiming that as per the Constitution, no elected member can continue in office for more than the stipulated period of five years and as such, Hakim's appointment as chairperson of the board is illegal.
The bench said in its order that the situation sought to be addressed by the notification did not require an ordinance to be promulgated not because the Assembly had been adjourned sine die and was deemed to be in session, but because the action taken was in pursuance of the executive authority available to the state.
The court said that the notification was 'designed only to take care of the immediate difficulty which had arisen and its application is confined to the one-off situation and no more.' 'What has been done through the impugned notification is to ensure continuity in the functioning of the Corporation.
If the executive sensed that such continuity was the order of the day, particularly to tackle the pandemic and its aftermath, it does not appear to be unreasonable or calling for any judicial interference,' the bench observed.
The court, however, said that it should be the honest endeavour of the government and the State Election Commission to ensure that the elections for KMC are held as expeditiously as improvement of the situation may allow. PTI AMR NN NN